Sagamore of the Wabash
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, but below is a partial list of notable recipients and the year they received the award:
- Ryan White, 1987 by Gov. Robert Orr
- Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold. 1994 and 2008
- Arie Luyendyk, 1999 by Gov. Frank O’Bannon; 1990 and 1997 Indianapolis 500 winner
- Dorothy Runk Mennen, 2003
- Thomas McDermott, Jr., 2005; Democratic Mayor of Hammond, Indiana (2004–Present)
- Mike Delph, January 2005; Indiana State Senator (December 2005 – present)
- David Letterman, 2007 by Gov. Mitch Daniels; comedian and television host
- Jeff Gordon, 2015 by Governor Mike Pence, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014 Brickyard 400 Winner
- Raju Chinthala, 2015 by Governor Mike Pence
- 2005: John Wooden, former Purdue University basketball player and college coach
- 2006: Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame
- 2007: Jane Blaffer Owen, in recognition of her philanthropic efforts in historic preservation and the arts
- 2008: Bill Gaither and Gloria Gaither, musicians
- 2009: Donald C. Danielson, New Castle business and civic leader
- 2010: Carl Erskine, former Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers baseball player
- 2011: William A. Cook, entrepreneur, philanthropist and historic preservationist, co-founded the medical equipment manufacturer Cook Group
- 2012: Ian M. Rolland, former chairman and CEO of Lincoln National Corp.
- 2013: Don Wolf, former President and CEO of Do-It Best Corporation based in Fort Wayne, IN
- 2014: Nathan P. Fink, former President of Hagerman Construction Corporation based in Fort Wayne, IN 
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.
- Indianapolis Monthly, September 2004, Page 143
- "Indy 500 - Drivers, Mechanics Honored". IRL. Motorsport.com. May 29, 1999. Retrieved September 14, 2015.
- "Lake County Democratic Central Committee: Thomas McDermott - Chairman" Lake County Democratic Central Committee, accessed April 11, 2011
- "Senator Delph To Speak About Immigration To Silent No More Group". Times-Union. August 12, 2010.
- Jankowski, Jane "Wooden first honoree for new award created by Governor Daniels" Governor Daniels Press Release, March 3, 2006 accessed April 10, 2011