Omiskanoagwiah – Springfield, Massachusetts - Atlas Obscura

Omiskanoagwiah

This 15-foot-tall sculpture stands vigil at the back entrance to the largest public park in western Massachusetts. 

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At the back entrance to Forest Park, in Springfield, Massachusetts, there is a stylized bust of Omiskanoagwiah, the Wolf-People Medicine Man. It was carved from a single log by the Hungarian-born sculptor Peter Wolf Toth.

Omiskanoagwiah is part of the Trail of the Whispering Giants, a series of more than 60 sculptures that Toth created to honor Indigenous Americans. He has donated at least one sculpture to every state and several Canadian provinces. At one time, as many as 74 of these sculptures existed, but some have been lost to storms and other damage. Thousands of people drive past the sculpture daily, as the rear entrance to the park gives almost direct access to the nearby interstate highway. Most assume he is an image of the famous Metacomet, more commonly known as King Phillip, who led a bloody uprising against the English settlers of New England in the 17th century. Few of those passers-by know the story of how Omiskanoagwiah came to be part of their park.

Toth conceived of the Whispering Giants as an homage to Native Americans and sought to place them in areas of significance to local tribes. A plaque on the base of Omiskanoagwiah says the statue is dedicated to the Pioneer Valley Indians, or the Pocomtuc tribe, whose traditional lands included western Massachusetts,  northern Connecticut, and southern Vermont.

Toth passed away in 1992, but many of his giants continue to stand vigil around the U.S. and Canada. 

Know Before You Go

A small fee is required to drive through the park. A small baseball field nearby offers free parking. Go to the Rt. 5 entrance to Forest Park, and you cannot miss seeing the sculpture. 

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