Students enjoy ‘Clay Day,’ adding their own history to Chief Sanpitch statue

A descendant of Chief Sanpitch, Patty Maxfield (center) looks on as artist Brad Taggart supervises a group of kids as they help mold the new sculpture of Chief Sanpitch on “Clay Day.”

MT PLEASANT—At least 60 elementary school students showed up on “Clay Day” to add their own piece of history to a new sculpture of Chief Sanpitch that local artist and Snow College professor Brad Taggart has been commissioned to create.

Local school children and other residents were invited to take part in history by adding some clay to the statue’s base layer at noon in the field just south of the Coffee Depot on April 17.

Taggart supervised the affair and he was joined by many children and several descendants of Chief Sanpitch under a canopy that protected the work in progress. Some participants added clay to the base, while others worked on the chief’s fingers.

Descendants of the Sanpitch Tribe, Patty Maxfield and Irell Despain, attended the event and added clay to the sculpture.

Taggert was very generous with his time, his knowledge of the process and the history of his subject. “I really appreciate everyone that was able to come out and take a part in this,” Taggart said. “I really enjoy doing this and involving people. It helps to tie them to a place and a part of history.”

The sculpture of Chief Sanpitch and two of his relatives, Chief Walkara and Chief Blackhack, are being created to pay tribute to the Native Americans who lived on the land before Mormon settlers came to the area.

The project is being funded by the Mormon Pioneer National Heritage Area (MPNHA) and sponsored by the North Sanpete Arts Council (NSAC).

The three statues will be eventually be erected in Mt. Pleasant, the host-city of the MPNHA.

As a celebrated Utah artist and Sanpete County resident, Taggart became the obvious choice for the commission of the statue. He was approached by the NSAC early in the project planning to handle the important job of sculpting the statue.