SALISBURY — The Indian Centurian Warrior Chief has found a temporary home.
The antique statue was displayed for years in the Okey-Dokey Hardware Store downtown. Believed to be more than 100 years old, the statue was made from a West Texas oak tree that was itself about a century old.
After a fire forced Okey Dokey to close, the Rev. Dr. Fleming “Holy Eagle” Otey acquired the rare statue to preserve its history and keep it in Salisbury.
The statue took on official status recently when Mayor Karen Alexander and Catawba College President Brien Lewis participated in a dedication ceremony, along with the Salisbury-Rowan Ministerial Alliance and community leaders.
The ceremony was led by Bishop Ronald Hash, L.A. Washington, Susan Lee, Betty Jo Hardy, the Rev. Robert Freeman and others.
The Warrior Chief stands in Catawba’s library for now. Plans are for the sculpture to be displayed in several area locations before being placed in a permanent home in a museum, according to Otey.
The solid oak statue weighs around 800 pounds and stands 9 feet tall.
The Indian statue has regalia of red, white and blue, including a full bonnet of 24 eagle feathers. It has a sword on one side and a sheath of corn or tobacco rolls in the left hand. The maroon skin is tanned from the sun. The giant right hand appears to salute and shade the chief’s eyes as if surveying the horizon.
The saving of “The Centurian” was a project undertaken by the Ministerial Alliance. Otey estimates the statue is worth more than $10,000. It has only a few “bruises” from moving or standing on concrete and outdoors.
Otey‘s mother was born about the same time the statue was created in 1888-1900. The family tree lists Aunt E. Foster on the Cherokee roll.
“The majestic Indian Centurion Chief means commending at least a hundred other officers and warriors and tribal circles or bands of Native Americans,” Otey says.
“For this retired chaplain, it is an honor as an 80+ year (old) veteran with over 50 years of service to dedicate this icon to Salisbury, Rowan and Catawba families like the Fishers, Ketners, Kennedys and Stanbacks. The honor guards and many others are also vital parts of this great undertaking and other gatherings,” he says.