This sculpture by Harry Whitehorse is one of the most beloved works of public art in Madison. It overlooks Lake Monona in Hudson Park on the city's east side, facing a peaceful grove of trees and a surviving effigy mound at what had been the one of the Ho Chunk people's most sacred groups of mounds.
Whitehorse originally carved the Effigy Tree in 1991 from the stump of a hackberry tree in the park that had been shattered by lightning. The Effigy Tree soon became a point of pride in the community. But by 1997 it had suffered weather damage, mainly from the successive cycles of freezing and thawing that come with our Wisconsin winters, and it had to be restored. Ten years later, it needed to be restored again and it became clear that something more permanent was needed. Neighbors and a wide variety of community organizations pitched in to fund casting the sculpture in bronze. The bronze sculpture was returned to Hudson Park in a dedication ceremony in May, 2009.