Big F Indian.

The Big F Indian

Field review by the editors.

Freeport, Maine

The "F" in the Big F Indian (also known as just "BFI" or "FBI") is said to stand for Freeport (the name of his town) or Friendly (despite his stern expression and ritual facial scars). A third, obscene word is probably the one that inspired the initials -- but it's used as an expression of awe, not disapproval.

Big F Indian.

His official name is Chief Passamaquoddy, and he was commissioned by Julian Leslie for his store, the Casco Bay Trading Company. The story goes that Leslie -- a local character who parked junk cars in front of his store to make it look busy -- was having lunch in Boothbay Harbor when he saw that town's 25-foot-tall Big Fisherman. Leslie decided that he wanted an even bigger statue. He contacted the Fisherman's sculptor, Rodman Shutt, and asked Shutt to build him a Native American (Leslie's business sold moccasins). Shutt's one-of-a-kind creation was built in Pennsylvania, trucked to Maine in the dead of night to avoid rubbernecking accidents, and erected on August 26, 1969. He stands 40 feet tall on a six-foot concrete base, and weighs 1,500 pounds.

The statue's towering hulk is so impressive that visitors might not even notice the various support wires holding him upright, or the hoisting hook that sticks out the top of his head.

Some people dislike the Big F Indian. They say that he doesn't resemble any of the Maine tribes, that his spear and headdress is Midwestern, and that his thunderbird shield is Southwestern. Defenders argue that the statue was never meant to be regionally accurate; that it was created to help sell moccasins, and that it should be viewed as a nonspecific monumental work of folk art and Americana. And some local Penobscot and Passamaquoddy people have said that they have no problem -- or not much, anyway -- with the statue, regarding it as a broad, giant reminder of who was in Maine first.

At least the BFI is clothed in sensible cold weather buckskins, unlike some other nearly naked giant Native Americans.

Shutt, Leslie, and the Trading Company are all gone, but the Big F Indian has survived, standing in front of a succession of businesses. He was repainted in 1989 and again in 2006, and has sometimes been shot with arrows, supposedly ambushed at night by archery students from a nearby college.

Shutt also built Big Chief Lewis in Massapequa, New York; the 20-foot-tall "Big Indian Gift Shop" chief in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts; and Big Amos, the Barefoot Amish Giant in Strasburg, Pennsylvania.

New owners took control of the Freeport property in 2021. One of them, Michael Jacobson, told us that they're willing to work with local tribal leaders, perhaps even remodeling the statue's headdress, spear, and shield. But they want to keep the Big F Indian.

The Big F Indian

Address:
117 US Hwy 1, Freeport, ME
Directions:
I-295 exit 17, then a mile north on US-1. On the right.
RA Rates:
Worth a Detour
Save to My Sights

Nearby Offbeat Places

Eartha: World's Largest Rotating GlobeEartha: World's Largest Rotating Globe, Yarmouth, ME - 1 mi.
Desert of MaineDesert of Maine, Freeport, ME - 3 mi.
Giant L.L. Bean BootGiant L.L. Bean Boot, Freeport, ME - 3 mi.
In the region:
Walking Man, Westbrook, ME - 12 mi.

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