Monday, February 19, 2001 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Maya Lin to memorialize Lewis & Clark

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KENNEWICK - One of the country's most recognized artists has agreed to design four Lewis and Clark memorials across Washington, including one near the Tri-Cities.

Maya Lin, perhaps best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall in Washington, D.C., is expected to have her four-site work ready for Lewis and Clark bicentennial celebrations in 2005.

"I can guarantee it won't be two white guys standing and pointing to the West - or if it is, I'll eat your hat," said Jane Jacobsen, project coordinator at the Vancouver National Historic Reserve Trust.

"She was approached not to do a commemorative piece honoring Lewis and Clark, ... (but) to tell the complete story from every perspective, especially the Native American perspective," Jacobsen said.

And tribal leaders are eager to see what Lin has in mind.

"For the most part, (American Indians) recognize they will probably not get another chance for another 50 years to tell the world about their side of the Lewis and Clark expedition," said Jim Beard, director of planning for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation.

"There's a lot written in the journals about Lewis' and Clark's perspectives, but tribal leaders now are going to great lengths to tell their side of the story."

Specific sites have not been selected, but officials are trying to secure land for Lin's work on the Pacific Coast and near the junctions of major Columbia River tributaries: the Snake, the Clearwater and the Willamette.

Beard said a likely mid-Columbia site is at Hood Park, operated by the Army Corps of Engineers near the mouth of the Snake River. While eager about the project, organizers are giving Lin wide artistic rein.

"I am not sure that any of us know what it will look like, what it will represent," Beard said. "I am sure it will have some kind of message."

Lin's works usually do.

The Vietnam memorial, for instance, has become an intensely personal reminder of an ugly war for thousands of veterans and relatives of those who died.

Created in 1982, the wall sparked controversy and won the largest design competition in U.S. history.

But Lin's reach stretches far beyond Vietnam. Other popular works include The Women's Table at Yale University and The Civil Rights Memorial in Montgomery, Ala. Her current work includes interpretive art at Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone National Park.

Jacobsen said several Lewis and Clark bicentennial organizers concluded Lin was the right artist for the job.

Then, said Beard, Gov. Gary Locke helped convince the New York artist the project was worth her effort. Locke and Lin are both Yale-educated Chinese Americans.

A timeline for the project has not been set, nor has a price.

The tentative schedule is for planning this year and next, groundbreaking in 2003 and completion by July 4, 2005.


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