Water damage caused the majestic piece to crack and deteriorate, but Toth is confident he can restore the memorial to Tennessee’s Cherokee, Creek and Chickasaw in two to three weeks.
“Your city has gone out of its way to honor Native Americans, and I appreciate that,” said Toth, a member of the Eastern Band of Cherokee. “When I make a statue, I consider where I left it my hometown.”
Park Services staff set up scaffolding and handrails from which Toth will remove a portion of Junaluska’s back to rid the structure of decayed wood. He then will treat the wood with a preservative and insert an I-beam and steel plates for support.
“A new top will be constructed from steel and fiberglass, and I’m going to reconfigure the feathers so it looks like they’re blowing in the wind,” he said. “I will also be giving him a facelift, which will make him look even more distinguished. This is my attempt to intertwine the spirit of the tree and the Native American.”
Metro-Kiwanis is a 15-acre community park used primarily for softball league play. Junaluska faces Knob Creek Road within a 3-acre special-use area, Friendship Gardens.
Toth’s studio/museum is located near Daytona, Fla. His creations can be found in virtually every state, as well as about a dozen other countries.
For more information, please call 423-283-5815.