Sagamore of the Wabash

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Sagamore of the Wabash certificate

The Sagamore of the Wabash is an honorary award created by the state of Indiana during the term of Governor Ralph F. Gates (1945 to 1949). A tri-state meeting was to be held in Louisville with officials from Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. Aides to Gates learned that the governor of Kentucky was preparing "Kentucky Colonel" certificates for Gates and Senator Robert A. Taft, who was representing Ohio. The Indiana delegation decided to create an appropriate award to present in return.

The term sagamore was the term used by Algonquian-speaking American Indian tribes of the northeastern United States for the tribal chiefs. The Wabash is the "State River" of Indiana and major tributary of the Ohio River. Each governor since Gates has presented the certificates in his own way. Until 2006, the award was the highest honor which the Governor of Indiana bestows, a personal tribute usually given to those who rendered distinguished service to the state or to the governor.

Among those who have received Sagamores have been astronauts, presidents, ambassadors, artists, musicians, politicians and citizens who have contributed greatly to "Hoosier" heritage. The Sagamore award has been conferred upon both men and women. There is no official record of the total number presented, as each governor has kept his own roll; just as each has reserved the right to personally select the recipients. Some individuals have received the award more than once; for example, Indiana University chancellor Herman B Wells was so honored six times.

Recipients of the Sagamore of the Wabash Award

The Sagamore of the Wabash Award does not have an official list of the number of Sagamore of the Wabash awards presented,[1] but below is a partial list of notable recipients and the year they received the award:

Sachem Award

On March 3, 2006, Governor Mitch Daniels designated another state honor, named the Sachem Award. He determined it would be awarded to only one person each year.

Contents of the award

When a Sagamore of the Wabash is given to a recipient it is accompanied by other artifacts. It's uncertain if the contents of the award vary by year or by recipient. The gallery below shows the contents of a specific award given on January 9, 2005.

See also