Sequoyah “Whispering Giant”, Cherokee
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. It is positioned on the left if facing the memorial. 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.
Images (by Natasha Smith): Close-up view of the sculpture | Tears on the Sequoyah's face | Rear view of the sculpture | Close-up view of the profile of the face | Side view of the sculpture | Inscription on the dedication plaque | Bird clan of the Cherokee Nation | Blue clan | Deer clan | Long hair clan | Paint clan | Wild potato clan | Wolf clan | View of the intersection of Drama Road and Tsali Blvd. (US441) | Street (Drama Road) view | Museum of the Cherokee Indian | Board with the information about "Trail of Tears" | View of the memorial complex and The Museum of the Cherokee Indian
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
Museum of the Cherokee Indian
September 30, 1989
35.484720 , -83.315870 View in Geobrowse
"Peter Wolf Toth," Wikipedia.org, (accessed June 29, 2023) Link
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
“Peter Toth Giant Indian Head – Cherokee, North Carolina, USA.” Waymarking.com, (accessed April 21, 2017) Link
“Sequoyah, Sculpture,” Art Inventories Catalog, Smithsonian American Art Museum, SIRIS, sirismm.si.edu, (accessed April 21, 2017) Link
“The Museum of the Cherokee Indian,” Museum of the Cherokee Indian, (accessed April 21, 2023) Link
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.
The statue was commissioned by Chief Robert S. Youngdeer and Museum of the Cherokee director Ken Blankenship.
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.
"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.”
The memorial complex is located at the entrance to the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, 589 Tsali Blvd. (US441 South) in Cherokee, NC. The memorial marker to Georgia Blankenship is located nearby, to the right of the entrance to the museum.
The carved sculpture stands at the corner of two streets (Drama Road and Tsali Blvd.) , on the museum front lawn, surrounded by flower beds and greenery.