Nuya Saligugi (Stone Turtle), Murphy
The Nuya Suligua is an ancient carving of a turtle. It is approximately six-feet long and carved from soapstone.
NUYA SALIGUGI / (CHEROKEE FOR STONE TURTLE)
CARVED AND LEFT BY / ANCIENT MAN IN A SOAPSTONE / QUARRY NEAR NOTTELY RIVER, / 4 MILES WEST OF MURPHY, / MOVED HERE FOR PROTECTION / AND STUDY.
Cherokee County Historical Museum
January 9, 1982
35.086660 , -84.033030 View in Geobrowse
Terrel, Bob. “Large Turtle,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), November 24, 1981, 13
Terrel, Bob. “Stone Turtle Has A Name,” Asheville Citizen-Times (Asheville, NC), January 14, 1982, 21
“Cherokee County Historical Museum,” Blue Ridge National Heritage Area, (accessed June 29, 2017) Link
“Nuya Saligugi (Cherokee For Stone Turtle),” The Historical Marker Database, HMdb.org, (accessed June 30, 2017) Link
Soapstone carving, bronze plaque
The town of Murphy lies at the junction of the Owassa and Valley Rivers in Cherokee County, NC. In Cherokee the word Owassa means “large turtle” and the river got its name because legend has that an immense turtle lived in the vicinity in ancient times. The Cherokee had great respect for the turtle and this turtle and three others had been placed where legend says “Owassa” loved to lie in the sun.
A contest was held to name this turtle. The first place winning name of “Nuya” which is Cherokee for stone or rock was combined with the second place name of “Saligugi” meaning turtle in Cherokee.
The stone turtle is located in front of the building housing the Cherokee County Historical Museum and the Murphy Police Department. The address is 87 Peachtree Street in Murphy, NC.
The stone lays on the front lawn, to the right of stairs to the building entrance.
This turtle was originally found in an ancient soapstone quarry on the Nottely River.