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Tower at Black Elk-Neihardt Park near Blair will be restored

January 9, 2019

A 44-foot tower near Blair that was inspired by a vision of an Oglala Lakota Sioux holy man will be renovated thanks to an anonymous donation of over $187,000.

The Tower of the Four Winds, a memorial to author John G. Neihardt and holy man Black Elk, rises over the Missouri River valley in the 80-acre Black Elk-Neihardt Park. Black Elk, who lived from 1863 to 1950, related his story and visions to Neihardt, the poet laureate of Nebraska, who died in 1973.

Time and weather have taken a toll on the tower’s mosaic tiles. They have been falling off the tower since its construction in 1987, according to the Blair Historic Preservation Alliance. Without the restoration project, the tower’s artwork would have continued to deteriorate until the mosaic no longer existed, said Dawn Nielsen, president of the alliance board.

A foundation whose leaders want it to remain anonymous contributed $187,450 to restore the tower. The donation will cover the complete cost of restoration by Omaha-based Jensen Conservation Services.

Pending approval of a contract by the Blair City Council, the project will begin in the spring and be completed within a few months.

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