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It was in 1972 in La Jolla, California that Hungarian-born American artist Peter Wolf Toth (b. December 1947) began to carve giant Indian stone or wood carvings – the first of what he referred to his "long Trail of the Whispering Giants." Over a period of nearly four decades, he created in all one stone sculpture and seventy-three wooden sculptures that can be found in every American state, two Canadian provinces, and in Hungary. In Peter Wolf Toth's words, "my monuments are made to remind people of the contributions of the Indians of this country. Statues to honor the plight of the Native Peoples of North America."
Toth placed a wooden sculpture in the fiftieth U.S. state in Hawaii in 1988. That same year he completed his first Canadian sculpture in North Bay, Ontario, followed by a second in Winnipeg Beach, Manitoba in 1991. Using mostly just a hammer and chisel, Toth created the sculptures based on their physical features and adornments in consultation with regional tribes. The sculptures use locally sourced wood and range from fifteen to forty feet in height. Each sculpture takes two months to a year to complete and is a gift to the community where he chooses to put it. Of the seventy-four "Whispering Giant" sculptures, only one is outside of North America, carved in his native Hungary at Délegyháza along the Danube River, representing King Stephen I (r.1000–1038).
Shown in the photograph is his "Redman" sculpture completed in August 1979 in Loveland, Colorado. It is thirty-seven feet high and is carved out of a large 100-year old fallen cottonwood tree. First displayed in the heart of the city near Lake Loveland, two lightning strikes caused safety concerns, and the sculpture was moved to a private ranch west of the city and anchored by massive cement blocks to keep it upright in high winds. Taken together, these remarkable stone and wooden sculptures commemorate the first inhabitants of North America using natural materials.
On this day, 1 August 2022, we mark the 50th anniversary of the creation of the "Trail of the Whispering Giants" by Peter Wolf Toth – with his signature sculptures as tributes and memorials to the Indigenous peoples of North America.
Brian Todd Carey