While spending a few days on Lake Martin in 1952, Hank Williams wrote a song about a poor, lonesome wooden Indian. The Indian, whose heart was made of knotty pine, fell in love with an Indian maid. While Hank was writing the song about Kaw-liga, ground was being broken on a new restaurant just across the road. The restaurant, complete with a wooden Indian, was opened in April of 1953. Later, it was operated as Cecil’s on the Lake at this site for 10 years. Following a fire, the restaurant reopened, and in 2000, Sinclair’s leased the location from Russell Lands for the next 12 years. When the lease came up for renewal in the fall of 2012, Russell Lands decided they’d like to add the signature property to the company’s restaurant options, which already included SpringHouse and Catherine’s Market.
“Kaw-liga IV,” who now greets guests with poise and stature, was created by wood carver and artist, Cory Worden of Beneath the Bark. The original Kowaliga wooden Indian—the one made famous in the Hank Williams song—according to local businessman Fred Dobbs, came from an Alexander City Pontiac dealership. It was kidnapped long ago, never to be seen again. His successor, who was found at a Sylacauga Pontiac dealership, was also spirited away without a trace. One might imagine that some thought was given to Kaw-liga’s obvious portability when the third, concrete statue was created. Although he managed to not be abducted, he suffered many assaults over the years, including fire and vandals.
Kowaliga Restaurant opened by Charlotte and Toppy Hodnett.
Following a fire, reopened as Sinclair’s at the Lake.
Russell Lands renovates and adds the property to their dining options.
Serving thousands, Kowaliga is one of the most popular dining locations on Lake Martin — and for good reason.
Enjoy the fresh air and an unobstructed view of Lake Martin and passing watercraft.
Relax with friends in air conditioned comfort while enjoying our southern favorites.
Our most versatile spot. Sip a cool libation, order dinner or book your private party.
Food Network Magazine
As always, our food was amazing. Our party ordered catfish, smoked chicken, steak sandwich, cheese bites, charred onion dip and burgers. We recommend everything. The service and atmosphere is always splendid.
Great relaxing place to sit and enjoy the sunset and have dinner. If the weather permits I recommend sitting outside and watching the lake and the boats passing by. The staff was friendly and quick to answer any request. Definitely recommend you come and try it if you're in the area.
Wonderful spot for dinner on the lake. Great food, kind staff and nice cold drinks. And the view is top notch. We came in by boat and it was a fantastic evening.
Alabama's Tastiest Taco. The magazine's taco team tried hundreds of tacos to come up with this list of the best in every state. Grilled Catfish Taco: "This classic Southern taco is the best reason to visit Kowaliga. Another: Hank Williams penned 'Kaw-Liga' about a wooden Indian that once held court here."