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About Big Vic
The story of Big Vic is that of protest and self-advocacy in Minnesota, particularly in Koochiching County, ignited by the creation of Voyageurs National Park (VNP) in 1975. The National Park Service's (NPS) use of eminent domain to acquire private land sparked outrage among landowners. Vic Davis, a significant figure in the protest, alongside others, resisted the NPS’s “unscrupulous” land-grabbing policies. Davis, Carl Brown, and John Butch McHarg even purchased Little Cranberry Island and confronted the NPS legally.
Vic Davis intensified the protest by commissioning the Big Vic statue, a symbol of defiance against the NPS. The statue, costing $19,000 for construction and placement, was erected on Little Cranberry Island. Davis also offered parcels of the island for sale to the public, aiming to inundate the NPS with paperwork. However, the NPS seized the property through eminent domain, undeterred by Davis’s efforts. In response, Davis commissioned a second statue, Big Louie, amplifying the protest.
The NPS eventually removed both statues, but Big Vic found a new home at the entrance of Ranier after the city purchased it for $1. Big Louie was relocated to Barnum, MN. These statues, symbols of protest and justice, continue to remind the public of the power struggle between private citizens and governmental authority. The enduring presence of Big Vic and Big Louie attests to the indomitable spirit of those who challenged the NPS’s overreach, embodying a historical narrative of resistance and advocacy.