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The park takes its name from a twelve foot "dog shaped" monolith. The  stone was used as a boundary line between separate Indian Nations. The Cherokee called the monolith "NEE YAH KAH TAH  KEE" which is interpreted "Standing Stone."

In probing the depth of this curiosity it  becomes imperative to discover what the structure was. First of all, the term monolith (a common term in geology): the term lithos comes from the Greek word Stone,  the term mono meaning one. The individual sandstone which the  monolith was made of and the rock in which the monolith is found are argilaceous, ortho quartz sandstone, which means they are pure sandstone; they are made from quartz. They have little clay in them. The rocks are held together  with iron oxide cement. We call this rust. This is what gives the different color to the sandstone. Most of the monolith is a dark brown and the reason for that is because of the iron oxide staining. This sandstone is very loosely  cemented. You can actually break the stone with your hands. The monolith itself probably the inside part of a boulder because that is the hardest part. The rocks are very massive sandstone and can be shipped or carved. If it was formed naturally, it would form without lines. Which leads us to believe the "dog shape" was carved.

Over the years the monolith became victimized by the weathering process and possibly by passing pioneers who would  chip off souvenirs to take home. So severe the destruction, by the late 19th century the curious animal-like appearance had virtually disappeared and the stone stood half its original height. In 1893 a group of concerned Cookeville  citizens picked the smaller fragments that existed and took them to Cookeville for inscription and returned it two years later to be mounted on a pedestal of the Standing Stone.

The Cookevillians that saved the last fragments of  the monolith were members of the Narragansett tribe of a fraternal group named "The Improved Order of Redmen," an organization that had gained notoriety during the Revolutionary War period when they were known as "The Sons of Liberty." The ground where the monolith is now located was donated by the Cumberland Mountain Coal Company and the monument itself was constructed by the Cookeville Marble and Granite Works. A tomahawk and  the words "NEE YAH KAH TAH KEE" were inscribed on the monolith which now rests atop the monument. The monument was dedicated on the 17th day of October, 1895. GSD404 means 404 years after the Great Sun of Discovery. The  Improved Order of Redmen used 1492, the date of the discovery of America by Columbus, as the beginning of their dating system. There is much symbolism to be seen in this monument, not only is it a link to our heritage, but the  designers' of the irregular shaped stone cemented them together at that time with red cement symbolizing the linkage of the irregular patterns of men's lives through the motto of the Improved Order of Redmen of freedom, charity, and friendship. A link which, according to the Improved Order of Redmen, should always exist not only around the entire world, but especially around this monument. It was a cold, crisp day as nearly 3,000 people gathered in  Monterey, Tennessee to dedicate the only genuine relic of Aboriginal origin in Tennessee.


Standing Stone State Park page | Tourism page

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