A 12 foot tall sculpture of Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, kneels in serene homage to the heavens at 111 South Maple
The city was named nearly 150 years ago after Nokomis, grandmother of Hiawatha, the young Indian boy in Henry
Wadsworth Longfellow's famous poem, "The Song of Hiawatha."
By the shores of Gitche Gumee,
By the Shining Big-Sea-Water;
Stood the wigwam of Nokomis,
Daughter of the Moon, Nokomis.
The sculpture depicts Nokomis kneeling on a rock with arms stretched upward. Paul Hoffman, Mt. Pulaski wood carver,
used chain saws and a power chisel to reveal the Indian woman's form long hidden in the trunk of a large hackberry
tree beside the home of Mrs. Dotty Dawson.
The hackberry was the climbing tree for her four sons, including Marty Dawson, funeral director for the family business,
Stiehl-Dawson Funeral Homes.
The sculpture was envisioned by Marty, who'd read about Hoffman's talent. When the old hackberry tree leaning
toward his mother's home had to be removed, Dawson left its trunk standing and contacted Hoffman, who has carved
dozens of life-size statues of people and animals in state parks and for individual homeowners.
Working without any sketches, just Dawson's idea, Hoffman completed the carving in just 15 working days over a
four-week period in the fall of 2000.
Dozens of school classes visited the work in progress, and students were invited inside the funeral home for a short
history lesson on their hometown presented by the Nokomis Historical Society and the Nokomis High School history
Carvings on the base of the trunk depict native Illinois plants plus the mascots of the city's public and parochial schools:
the Nokomis High School Redskins, South Middle School Braves, St. Louis Catholic School Hawks and St. Paul's
Lutheran School Trojans.
Hoffman used penetrating stains to highlight details of the woman's face and clothing. Urethane varnish was applied to
seal the wood.
Nokomis, Daughter of the Moon, stands next door to Stiehl-Dawson Funeral Home, between the funeral home and Dairy
Queen along Illinois Rt. 16.