Documenting the American South

Doc South header logo Home
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes of North Carolina
Commemorative Landscapes banner
  • Monument Name

    Nuya Saligugi (Stone Turtle), Murphy

  • Type

    Sculpture

  • Subjects

    American Indian Monuments

  • City

    Murphy

  • County

    Cherokee

  • Description

    The Nuya Suligua is an ancient carving of a turtle. It is approximately six-feet long and carved from soapstone.

  • Inscription

    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.

  • Custodian

    Cherokee County Historical Museum

  • Dedication Date

    January 9, 1982

  • Decade

    1980s

  • Geographic Coordinates

    35.086660 , -84.033030 View in Geobrowsemap pin

  • Supporting Sources

      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

  • Public Site

    Yes

  • Materials & Techniques

    Soapstone carving, bronze plaque

  • Subject Notes

    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.

  • Location

    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.

  • Landscape

    The stone lays on the front lawn, to the right of stairs to the building entrance.

  • Former Locations

    This turtle was originally found in an ancient soapstone quarry on the Nottely River.

Know anything else about this monument that isn't mentioned here? If you have additional information on this or any other monument in our collection fill out the form at the Contact Us link in the footer. Thank you.