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An Update on the Damaged Chief Kno-Tah Sculpture

Post Date:04/14/2017 3:23 PM

Damage to the forehead of Chief Kno-Tah Sculpture

UPDATE: June 7, 2017

Read the latest update on the damaged Chief Kno-Tah sculpture.

UPDATE: April 14, 2017

After gathering information from the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon and further researching the condition of the damaged Chief Kno-Tah sculpture, we are sharing our factual findings with the community before we look to make a final decision before summer.

While recognizing the damaged sculpture’s history here in Hillsboro and the sensitivity of the situation, we want to ensure our decision is both thoughtful and accompanied by a plan for the next steps. In the interim, the protective fencing will remain in place to keep visitors out of harm’s way should the damaged sculpture deteriorate further.

Finally, we want to express our gratitude to the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Community of Oregon for sharing their perspective on the sculpture, and to the many members of the community who are supportive of our parks and public art program.

Dave Miletich
Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department Director


UPDATE: February 23, 2017

The City of Hillsboro greatly appreciates the passion and commitment shared by residents for our many parks, trails, and public art pieces, including the support expressed for the efforts of the Parks & Recreation Department to preserve the damaged Chief Kno-Tah sculpture. For three decades, the Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department has provided consistent care, maintenance, and monitoring of the Chief Kno-Tah sculpture – dating back to its installation in Shute Park in 1987. Despite the best efforts of the department to ensure the carving’s continued structural integrity, time is taking a toll on the untreated Doug Fir log that was originally harvested for lumber. The Chief Kno-Tah sculpture is one of a series of “Whispering Giants” statues created by Peter “Wolf” Toth. Many of these sculptures, made with the same method, have already succumbed to the elements.

In early February, a falling tree landed directly on top of the highly-degraded sculpture. The powerful blow dislodged a large chunk of rotten wood from the front of Chief Kno-Tah (see picture top right), marring the statue visually. The incident also knocked the sculpture out of alignment with its concrete base. In addition, the metal support rods that were in place to keep Chief Kno-Tah safe from pooling rainwater are no longer intact. The sculpture now poses a public safety risk that the Parks & Recreation Department is addressing.

Working with a team of professional advisors, as well as members of Hillsboro’s Parks & Recreation Commission, the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council, and the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde, the City is evaluating the best path forward for the entire community. As part of this evaluation of the options available for repair, removal, or commemoration, the City must also determine the full costs of these actions. The damage that has recently occurred is not the first that the Chief Kno-Tah sculpture has endured. While the Parks & Recreation Department has kept the sculpture on view following past incidents, the current evaluation must consider all recent information in order to achieve the City’s goal of providing excellent stewardship of all amenities in our parks.

Visitors to Shute Park are advised to stay well away from the protective fencing that encircles the damaged sculpture. In addition, community members who want to support Hillsboro’s public art program are encouraged to wait for the evaluation to conclude – and the announcement of a plan for the sculpture’s future – before donating their money to further a specific outcome. Hillsboro Parks & Recreation Department thanks residents for their continued support of our parks and our public art program.

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