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 U.S. state of Indiana during the term of Governor Ralph F. Gates, who served from 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, current Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb has received the award twice and Indiana University chancellor Herman B Wells was honored six times.

Recipients of the Sagamore of the Wabash Award[edit]

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[edit]

In 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels designated another state honor, named the Sachem Award. He determined it would be awarded to only one person each year. It is Indiana's highest honor, and a plaque listing recipients is posted on the first floor of the Indiana Statehouse. It was first introduced in 1970 by Governor Edgar Whitcomb.[22]

Contents of the award[edit]

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[edit]


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  18. ^ "IMS Historian Donald Davidson receives the Sagamore of the Wabash | WFNI ESPN 1070 the Fan | Indy's SportsCenter". WFNI ESPN 1070 the Fan | Indy's SportsCenter. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
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  21. ^ "A Fitting Farewell". RACER. Retrieved October 5, 2021.
  22. ^ a b Mitchell, Dawn. "The Sagamore of the Wabash is one of Indiana's highest honors. But what exactly is it?". The Indianapolis Star. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  23. ^ Jankowski, Jane "Wooden first honoree for new award created by Governor Daniels" Governor Daniels Press Release, March 3, 2006 accessed April 10, 2011
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  25. ^ Watters, Brandi. "8:28 p.m.: UPDATE: Gaithers honored". Herald Bulletin. Retrieved November 11, 2020.
  26. ^ Newsroom, IU Bloomington. "Former IU Trustee Donald C. 'Danny' Danielson dies at 95: IU Bloomington Newsroom: Indiana University Bloomington". Retrieved November 11, 2020.
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  32. ^ Amos Brown posthumously honored with Sachem Award - Local News - 13 WTHR Indianapolis
  33. ^ Midwest Communications Inc. "Kohr Honored With The Sachem Award | News | WIBQ". Retrieved April 14, 2017.
  34. ^ GOV - Sammy L. Davis to receive 2018 Sachem Award
  35. ^ Dr. George Rapp to Receive 2019 Sachem Award - Inside INdiana Business
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  37. ^ "Jim Morris to receive 2021 Sachem Award". WBIW. Retrieved June 26, 2021.