Bethany’s wood-carved Indian is part of a nationwide series of statues honoring Native Americans

By Bill Newcott | Photograph by Keith Misener
From the April 2019 issue


First of all, Peter Wolf Toth wants you to know it’s not a totem pole. That’s not a minor point. For years, whenever I visited friends in Bethany Beach, rather than tell me to turn inland at the intersection of Routes 1 and 26, they’d say, “Turn at the totem pole.”


In fact, I’m guessing that every business on the beach end of Bethany’s bustling Garfield Parkway tells customers to “look for the totem pole” when they drive into town. Even Bethany Beach’s municipal web page uses that term to describe the 24-foot-high sculpture.

Uh, nope.

“It’s a statue,” Toth tells me, and he should know because he’s the guy who carved it from a 24-foot-high trunk of western red cedar.

Not only that, but Bethany’s statue, a likeness of the local Nanticoke Indian leader Little Owl, is part of what could be considered one of the most expansive art installations on the planet: “The Trail of Whispering Giants.” Since 1972, Toth has created a network of more than 74 similarly tall and intricate wooden statues honoring Native Americans — at least one in each state and many throughout Canada.


* * *

Buy this issue online

Buy the current issue on a newsstand