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Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
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  • Monument Name

    Sequoyah “Whispering Giant”, Cherokee

  • Type

    Sculpture

  • Subjects

    Historic Educational Figures

    Historic Native American Figures

    American Indian Monuments

  • Creator

    Peter “Wolf” Toth, Sculptor

  • City

    Cherokee

  • County

    Swain

  • Description

    The massive carving is a bust of Sequoyah wearing a pendant around his neck and a head wrap with a large protruding feather. According to the sculptor, the carving is a representative image created using a combination of various Native Americans. It depicts Sequoyah aged over 70 as can be seen from the lines in his face and is unlike typical depictions that show him much younger. There are also three tears on his face, two on the right and one on the left that represent the beginning of the “Trail Of Tears”.

    Carved from a single redwood tree trucked from California, it stands 22-feet tall, is 5-feet in diameter and held in place by a seven sided stone and masonry base. Attached to the base are marble plaques with pictographs representing the seven clans of the Cherokee Nation. A lectern shaped stone structure holds the dedication plaque. A low circular stone wall is bisected with sidewalks allowing approach to the statue.

    This Sequoyah carving is number 63 in the artist, Peter “Wolf” Toth’s, Whispering Giants series of sculptures that have been placed in all 50 states and Canada to commemorate Native Americans.

  • Inscription

    SEQUOYAH / THIS STATUE HONORING SEQUOYAH, THE CHEROKEE GENIUS WHO / INVENTED THE CHEROKEE ALPHABET, WAS SCULPTED FROM A SINGLE / GIANT CALIFORNIA SEQUOIA (REDWOOD) LOG WHICH WAS / DONATED AND SHIPPED BY GEORGIA-PACIFIC.

    THIS IS SCULPTOR WOLF TOTH’S 63RD STATUE ACROSS THE / UNITED STATES AND CANADA COMMEMORATING THE / CONTRIBUTIONS OF NATIVE AMERICANS. TOTH WAS INVITED TO / SCULPT THE SEQUOYAH STATUE BY CHIEF ROBERT S. YOUNGDEER / AND MUSEUM DIRECTOR KEN BLANKENSHIP.

    DEDICATED: SEPTEMBER 30, 1989

  • Custodian

    Museum of the Cherokee Indian

  • Dedication Date

    September 30, 1989

  • Decade

    1980s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.484720 , -83.315870 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      Anderson, Nina. "Sequoyah Statue Was Dedicated Sept. 30,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), October 11, 1989

      Anderson, Nina. “Log To Be Transformed,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), May 17, 1989

      Anderson, Nina. “Sculptor Peter Toth Is Chipping Away At His Interpretation Of Sequoyah,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), July 5, 1989

      Scott, Bob. “Giant Redwood Tree Becoming Sequoyah,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), July 9, 1989

      Scott, Bob. “Giant Sequoyah Statue Completed,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), September 29, 1989

      “#63 – Sequoyah, Cherokee Indian Museum, Cherokee Reservation NC,” Waymarking.com, (accessed April 21, 2017) Link

      “Museum of the Cherokee Indian,” Museum of the Cherokee Indian, (accessed April 21, 2017) Link

      “Peter Toth Giant Indian Head – Cherokee, North Carolina, USA.” Waymarking.com, (accessed April 21, 2017) Link

      “Sequoyah, Sculpture,” Smithsonian Art Inventories Catalog, (accessed April 21, 2017) Link

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    The statue is hand carved from a single giant redwood tree and took four months to complete. Most of the carving was done with the log lying on the ground.

  • Sponsors

    The statue was commissioned by Chief Robert S. Youngdeer and Museum of the Cherokee director Ken Blankenship.

  • Monument Dedication and Unveiling

    Despite rainy weather about 250 people turned out for the dedication ceremony. While making his remarks the sculptor was interrupted and presented an honorary membership in the Eastern Band of the Cherokee.

  • Subject Notes

    "The Trail of the Whispering Giants” is a collection of sculptures by Hungarian-born artist Peter “Wolf” Toth. The sculptures range in height from 20 to 40 feet and are between 5 and 10 feet in diameter. There are 67 Whispering Giants, with at least one in each of the 50 U.S. states, as well as in Ontario and Manitoba, Canada, and one in Hungary (see Whispering Giants Map).

    Toth’s decision to carve giant Indians was largely influenced by his own life experience. His family was forced out of Hungary and came to the United States when he was nine. “My father lost land to the Communist not once but twice. He was driven out just as American Indians were driven off their land.” In 1968, then 21 year old Toth began the series in California with a stone sculpture. Over the next 21 years, he sculpted 66 more memorials, all of wood. For his efforts, he has been given the Indian name "Wolf". Toth has said his campaign of chipping away on the whispering giants was to alert the nation to the “cry of the red man.” “I am protesting against the plight of the Indian, against the theft and trickery through which we took this land. We left them with barren waste to suffer poverty and prejudice. But my protest is constructive…one of giving, not destruction. I also want to honor the Indian as the proud and brave people they are.”

  • Location

    The statue is located at the entrance to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, 589 Tsali Blvd. (US441 South) in Cherokee, NC.

  • Landscape

    The carved sculpture stands at the corner of two streets, on the museum front lawn, surrounded by flower beds and greenery.

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