World's Tallest Indian, Skowhegan, Maine.

World's Tallest Indian

Field review by the editors.

Skowhegan, Maine

Skowhegan's big brave is easily the World's Tallest Indian, though he is too skinny to be the World's Largest Indian (height x radius squared x pi).

He is 62 feet tall atop a 20-foot-tall base. He appears to be carved out of raw pine trees, with legs like telephone poles. The World's Tallest Indian was erected in 1969 in observance of Maine's 150th anniversary, created by Bernard Langlais (1921-1977), a sculptor from Old Town who attended the local art school.

The statue is dedicated to Maine's Abnaki Indians, who are known to have helped the Pilgrims make it through a couple of bad winters. In their heyday, the Abnaki dressed even more comfortably than the statue's crate-like attire suggests. No tomahawk-waving Mohawk with a mohawk here -- this Abnaki gentlemen is content to clutch a fish trap resembling too-skinny scaffolding.

The engraved wooden sign at the statue's base reads: "Dedicated to the Maine Indians, the first people to use these lands in peaceful ways." On the back of the base is the message: "Copyright 1969, Skowhegan Hospitality Association."

A popular 1970s postcard helped to make this out-of-the-way Indian widely known -- although then he stood against a stark and empty blue sky. Today he is crowded by adjacent (and taller) trees, and partly obscured by trash dumpsters in the back parking lot of a Cumberland Farms convenience store.

Update: The elements have battered the Indian; his right arm and fish trap have been removed. By mid-2013 the town had raised enough cash to restore the Indian to his original glory (although contributions can still be made) and plans are in place to clear away the distractions and make the Indian prominent again in 2014.

Back of the World's Tallest Indian.

World's Tallest Indian

Cumberland Farms

Address:
High St., Skowhegan, ME
Directions:
Downtown, on the northeast corner of Madison Ave. and High St., behind the Cumberland Farms food mart.
Phone:
207-474-3621
Admission:
Free.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
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April 18, 2014

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