Once again on the shores of Lake Erie, the Whispering Giant is back to its original home. The city of Dunkirk held a re-dedication ceremony to welcome the statue back to the city Tuesday evening. Creator Peter Wolf Toth has been working on restoration efforts since July 1.
Local Tim Hortons owner Gina Kron reached out to Toth in Florida and was one of the main reasons he traveled back to Dunkirk. Kron admitted that when she first sent photos to Toth, she was nervous Toth would not come once he saw the condition of the statue. Once here locally, Kron said Toth has taught a valuable lesson to the community.
"We have learned through Peter, through his attitude toward this restoration, that nothing is as bad as it seems; anything is possible. With a little hard work and positive thinking we can really do tremendous things in this community," Kron said.
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
The Whispering Giant statue is sitting back along Lake Shore Drive after restoration. A feather, six tears and a slight smile are new additions.
OBSERVER Photo by Samantha McDonnell
Peter Wolf Toth speaks at a re-dedication ceremony Tuesday. Pictured behind Toth is Gina Kron, local Tim Hortons owner.
The statue has had minor additions including a feather, six tears and a slight smile. The six tears represent the six nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. The Hon. Judge Richard Jemison from the Seneca Nation of Indians thanked Toth for honoring the Native Americans with the statue. The statue is a representation of the history of the Native Americans which is sometimes not well studied, Jemison said.
"I can see where he comes from and that we are not forgotten. ... Where would we be without the foods that Native Americans developed?" he said.
Toth said the addition of a smile is because the statue has survived over the past 40 years. The statue is to honor not only the Native Americans but all people facing adversity.
"(The statue) is to chronicle the epic struggle of all men facing injustice," said Toth. "... The Native Americans ... they have gone through some very difficult times but yet they have survived. He does have a smile on his face because he has survived."
Dunkirk Mayor Anthony J. Dolce read a proclamation from the city of Dunkirk declaring Tuesday as Peter Wolf Toth Day. Since Toth also declared Dunkirk as one of his hometowns, Dolce said "in order to get home, you need a key" to the city.
"Here in Dunkirk we like to be practical, so the key is a bottle opener," said Dolce.
To honor the Native American culture, dancers performed traditional native dances including the robin dance, the welcome dance, the friendship dance and the smoke dance. Blaine Tallchief, along with dancers Chris Tallchief, Pam Tallchief, Owen Tallchief, Delsin Tallchief, Gonio Miller, Sarah Tallchief and Savannah Clarke, performed the dances. Blaine explained the dances are passed down through generations and they have been around for many years.
Todd Tranum, president of the Chautauqua Chamber of Commerce, thanked Kron for her work in the restoration project. He also told Toth to return to Dunkirk at any time and next time he will not have to bring his tool. John Warren, president of the Dunkirk Chamber of Commerce, also thanked Kron and Toth for all their work.
Donations are still being accepted to erect an enclosure around the statue to protect it from the elements. Donations can be sent to the Dunkirk City Hall and checks can be made out to the city of Dunkirk. Toth will still continue to work on the statue for about a week doing finishing touches. Toth also announced he has plans to return next summer to work on another statue.
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