This sphinx-like sculpture is a tribute to Native American leader Shateyaronyah, known as Leatherlips by settlers because when his word was given, it could be trusted—his words were as strong as leather.
Leatherlips served as a sachem of the Wyandot tribe in Ohio, and controversially encouraged maintaining peace with white settlers, even at the cost of losing native lands. Native Americans lost most of Ohio with the signing of the Treaty of Greenville in 1795, and Chief Leatherlips was among the signers—a stance that ultimately led to his death.
As Native Americans lost land and more when Americans entered the Ohio Territory, a split of opinion developed as to what to do about it. Some sided with Tecumseh, who did not sign the Treaty of Greenville. Others sided with Leatherlips, who advocated for cooperative co-existence despite the fact that the Wyandot’s numbers had been dispersed and depleted since the arrival of settlers on their land.
Leatherlips’ unpopular position divided Wendat tribes. A committee headed by his own brother sentenced him to death for witchcraft in 1810, though in reality it was widely known the execution was political. Despite the efforts of settlers to dissuade or even bribe the executioners, Leatherlips was executed by tomahawk.
This limestone monument in the shape of Chief Leatherlips’ silhouette, erected in 1990, overlooks Scioto Park. Visitors can stand on the head of the ill-fated chief to look out on the very land that he signed over to the settlers.