DUNKIRK – Native American dancers were part of the ceremonial rededication of the “Whispering Giant” carved wooden statue Tuesday near Route 5 at the Dunkirk waterfront.
Peter Wolf Toth, a Hungarian immigrant who originally carved the large head in 1973 and donated it to the city, has been restoring it under a tent since July 1. It had suffered from exposure over the years and was taken down earlier this year.
Toth did his restoration work at no cost to the city.
The statue was part of a series of 74 statues that he donated to various communities throughout the United States. Dunkirk’s is the 15th in the series.
“I carved the statues as a chronicle of the struggles of all men facing injustice, inhumanity and tyranny,” Toth said.
Judge Richard Jemison, from the Seneca Nation, told the crowd about the history of the Senecas as a part of the Six Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy. He acknowledged the statue as an important reminder about the history of the Native Americans throughout the United States.
Dunkirk Mayor A.J. Dolce accepted a $500 check from the local Chamber of Commerce and the Chautauqua County Chamber of Commerce to start a fund to cover the statue with a shelter so it will not be exposed to the elements. Donations towards the shelter are being accepted by the city.
“The City of Dunkirk could not be more appreciative of Mr. Toth’s work on restoring the Whispering Giant,” the mayor said. “It has been a pleasure having Peter in our city while he restores and discusses his well-known statue with the numerous visitors that stop and chat with him on a daily basis,” he added.
“His Whispering Giant is a source of pride in our city,” Dolce said.
Toth will remain in the city for a few more weeks as he puts some finishing touches on the statue.
He modified the original by adding six tears representing the Six Nations of the Iroquois.
The statue originally was on Park Avenue in the city.