Chief Kno-Tah

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Chief Kno-Tah
Chief Kno-Tah verticle - Hillsboro, Oregon.JPG
The sculpture in 2010
Chief Kno-Tah is located in Hillsboro Beaverton OR
Chief Kno-Tah
Chief Kno-Tah
Location in Washington County, Oregon
Artist Peter Wolf Toth
Year 1987 (1987)
Type Sculpture
Medium Wood
Dimensions 7.6 m (25 ft)
Location Hillsboro, Oregon, United States
Coordinates 45°30′47″N 122°58′27″W / 45.51306°N 122.97417°W / 45.51306; -122.97417Coordinates: 45°30′47″N 122°58′27″W / 45.51306°N 122.97417°W / 45.51306; -122.97417

Chief Kno-Tah was a wooden statue located in Shute Park in Hillsboro in the U.S. state of Oregon. Carved by Peter Wolf Toth, it was the 56th Native American head in his Trail of the Whispering Giants series. The 25-foot (7.6 m) tall, 250,000-pound (110,000 kg) statue was the first of two carved by Toth in Oregon. Completed in 1987, the statue was named in honor of a chief of the local Tualatin Indians. In early 2017, the statue was damaged by a tree blown over in a windstorm. It was ultimately determined to be beyond repair and was removed in June 2017.


Front of the sculpture along with city park sign

Toth selected Shute Park in Hillsboro for his first sculpture of a Native American head in Oregon in July 1987.[1] Toth wanted a location in the Portland metropolitan area to allow easy access for a large population to see the statue that would include features drawn from Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce in northeastern Oregon.[2] Part of his Trail of the Whispering Giants series, he carved a statue in each U.S. state with Oregon as the second to last state.[1][3][4] Sculpting began that month on a log of Douglas fir, Oregon’s state tree.[5] The 250,000-pound (110,000 kg) log was donated by Stimson Lumber Company and delivered free of charge by local companies.[6]

On August 13, the partly carved log was lifted onto its base at the park along Tualatin Valley Highway by J. L. Craigg Construction.[5][6] Toth carved it by hand, except for the use of an electric sander.[2] The statue was later treated with wood preservatives and fiberglass was applied to the top to protect against the elements.[7]

On September 25, 1987, the sculpture was dedicated as Chief Kno-Tah in a ceremony featuring Native American singing and dancing.[8] About 400 attended the ceremony on a day proclaimed as United American Indian Day by Hillsboro mayor Shirley Huffman.[9] City and county civic leaders as well as local Native American leaders spoke at the ceremony.[9] Kno-Tah was the leader of the Tualatin band of the Kalapuya group of Native Americans when that band signed a treaty with the government to cede their ancestral home on the Tualatin Plains to pioneer settlers.[7] Students at the Chemawa Indian School in Salem, Oregon, selected the name from submissions from local residents.[7]

The 25-foot (7.6 m) tall statue was Toth’s 56th in his series of Native American heads.[8] Toth donated the statue to the state as he did with each in the series.[8][10] A plaque on the base was later added.[7][11] After completing the statue, he carved a second Oregon one in Astoria later that year to honor coastal tribes.[12] Until 1996, a picture of the sculpture was used by the Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce for their postcards.[13] The image was replaced with a collage featuring the Old Scotch Church, a vineyard, and a high-tech clean room.[13] In February 2017, the top of the carving was damaged when a wind storm blew an adjacent tree into the front side, shearing off part of the head and causing the entire statue to lean.[14] On June 15, 2017, after officials determined that the leaning statue was a safety concern, it was removed.[15]


Chief Kno-Tah was made of Douglas fir and was 25 feet (7.6 m) tall, and 6 feet (1.8 m) in diameter (19 cubic metres, 9.9 tonnes).[11] The concrete base was 2 feet (0.61 m) tall and 8 feet (2.4 m) in diameter.[11] It was part of a series titled Trail of the Whispering Giants. The figure featured braided hair with feathers protruding from the back.[11] The hand-carved statue was located in Shute Park, along Tualatin Valley Highway in the south-central area of Hillsboro.[11] Sculptor Peter Wolf Toth is a Hungarian born refugee whose family settled in Ohio when he was 11.[2] In 1971, he started sculpting while in California, and a few years later began his series to carve a head of a Native American in each U.S. state.[2] He completed that in 1988, and then moved on to Canada.[4] The city’s parks and recreation department owned the statue.[11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Hillsboro chosen statue site". The Oregonian. July 16, 1987. 
  2. ^ a b c d Warren, Lucille (July 18, 1987). "Statue carver honoring Indians with big effort". The Hillsboro Argus. 
  3. ^ Keepfer, Scott (June 25, 2002). "Finding the Toths". The Greenville News. p. 3D. 
  4. ^ a b Geeslin, Ned; Cable Neuhaus (September 5, 1988). "Peter Toth has heads–up works in every state, so Canada is next". People. Time Inc.: 133. 
  5. ^ a b "Easy does it". The Oregonian. August 16, 1987. p. C7. 
  6. ^ a b Steineger, Melissa (July 27, 1987). "Sculptor to tell Indian story in Hillsboro". The Oregonian. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Chief Kno-Tah draws great deal of attention". Hillsboro Argus. October 8, 1987. 
  8. ^ a b c "Festivities to greet ‘Whispering Giant’ at park in Hillsboro". The Oregonian. September 24, 1987. p. W1. 
  9. ^ a b Chidester, Bill (September 29, 1987). "‘No-Tah’ statue dedicated". The Hillsboro Argus. p. 1. 
  10. ^ "Sculptor to discuss his work in Hillsboro". The Oregonian. September 21, 1987. p. B7. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f "Chief Kno-Tah, (sculpture).". Art Inventories Catalog. Smithsonian Institution. Retrieved 2009-09-16. 
  12. ^ Servino, Carol (November 3, 1987). "Toth’s ‘Trail of Tears’ statue rises amid controversy in Astoria". The Oregonian. p. B4. 
  13. ^ a b Gonzalez, Critine (October 3, 1996). "West Zoner: Briefly: For some, high-tech is old hat when it comes". The Oregonian. p. 1. 
  14. ^ Pursinger, Geoff (February 3, 2017). "Chief Kno-Tah statue injured by falling tree". Hillsboro Tribune. Retrieved 8 February 2017. 
  15. ^ Pursinger, Geoff (June 15, 2017). "No more Kno-Tah. Statue removed early Thursday morning from Shute Park". Hillsboro Tribune. Retrieved 2017-06-22. 

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