Michigan Roadside Attractions: Peter Wolf Toth’s Wood Carving Indian “Nee-Gaw-Nee-Gaw-Bow” in Wakefield
Michigan Roadside Attractions is a periodic feature on Travel the Mitten that will explore the many interesting things that can be found on the highways, byways and back roads of Michigan, ranging from the interesting to unusual.
Wakefield is a town of 1,800 residents in the Western Upper Peninsula and a former mining community that now serves as a gateway of sorts to the western end of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park. It is also home to Indianhead Mountain ski area and the area sees quite a boost from winter sports tourism each year. One of the area’s most notable landmarks is the wood carving sculpture of Nee-Gaw-Nee-Gaw-Bow (Leading Man) by Peter Wolf Toth, part of a series called Trail of Whispering Giants that honors Native Americans in all 50 states.
The statue is located on a lakeside pier next to the Wakefield Visitor Center. The red railing and walkway contrast with the blue waters of Sunday Lake and the greens of the surrounding forest to make the entire scene vibrant with color. This carving stands 27 feet tall and it is part of Toth’s successful mission to donate a sculpture to each of the 50 states and some Canadian provinces from 1971 to 1988. Other nearby sculptures are located in Lansing, Michigan, Hayward, Wisconsin and Two Harbors, Minnesota.
The Wakefield Visitor Center is easy enough to find, as it sits at the intersection of M-28 and US-2 – both popular and frequently-traveled routes for visitors crossing the Upper Peninsula. Toth came back to the area in 2009 to perform repairs and re-dedicate this impressive tribute.
The statue in Two Harbors, MN is shown above.