Ten Commandments Sculpture Unveiled at Trail of Tears Walk

Photo by Jason Hicks/Choctaw Nation

From left, Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr. and members of the Choctaw Tribal Council unveil the sculpture The Ten Commandments in opening ceremonies at the 2017 Choctaw Nation Trail of Tears Walk and Heritage Day. The event was held May 20 on the Historic Choctaw Capitol Grounds at Tvshka Homma.

TUSKAHOMA – Those attending the 2017 Choctaw Nation Trail of Tears Walk and Heritage Day on May 20 witnessed an additional special event – the unveiling of a sculpture, The Ten Commandments. 

An estimated 2,000 people were on hand for the annual Walk held on the Historic Choctaw Capitol Grounds at Tvshka Homma. Walkers and supporters gathered in front of the Choctaw Nation Council House, site of the newest art on the grounds. As opening ceremonies got under way, Chief Gary Batton, Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr., and members of the Choctaw Tribal Council circled the covered artwork. The cloth was removed to reveal a carving of The Holy Bible opened to the Ten Commandments.

It stands 5’4” high and weighs about 3,000 pounds. Natural gray in color, it’s made of native Georgia granite mined from a 3-mile long, 1-mile deep vein of granite.

Boyd Miller, Preferred Supplier Program Manager for the Choctaw Nation, designed the work based on submissions throughout the Choctaw Nation. Don Parsons’ Jordan River Monuments, in Poteau was the builder, with actual construction being done in Georgia. 

The sculpture displays two versions of the Ten Commandments. The left side page is in King James English, the right, facing page, in Choctaw. Lilly Roberts and Teresa Billy, noted Choctaw language speakers, helped with details of the Choctaw wording of the Ten Commandments.

After celebrating the unveiling, walkers lined up on the road in front of the Choctaw Tribal Council House. Previous day’s rain and lingering puddles did not deter walkers who trekked the full 2.5-mile route commemorating the Trail of Tears of the 1830s.

Heritage Day activities concluded with cultural demonstrations of basket weaving, pottery making, stickball, and traditional Choctaw dancing. A large tent covered 14 Choctaw artists’ booths. Paintings, pottery, medicine bags, beadwork, flutes, knives, bows and arrows, and handmade stuffed animals were among items displayed and for sale.

Cover Photo: 

Photo by Deidre Elrod/Choctaw Nation

The Choctaw Nation Color Guard leads hundreds of walkers on the commemorative Choctaw Nation Trail of Tears Walk May 20 near Tvshka Homma.