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[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:

  • Ryan White, 1987 by Gov. Robert Orr[2]
  • Robert Sheldon (R. Sheldon) Duecker, 1988 by Gov. Robert Orr; ordained elder and bishop of The United Methodist Church[3]
  • Mary Jane Barker Beaman Phillippe, 1991 by Gov. Evan Bayh & 1999 by Gov. Frank O’Bannon;[4] lobbyist and social activist
  • Eugene "Gene" Gigli, 1993 by Gov. Evan Bayh; Vietnam Veteran and Civil Servant of Indianapolis, Indiana[5]
  • Bob Kevoian and Tom Griswold. 1994 and 2008[6]
  • Len Clark, 1996 by Gov. Evan Bayh; contribution to broadcasting[7]
  • Dennis "Red" Bateman, 1998 by Gov. Frank O’Bannon; Department of Labor, Bureau of Apprenticeship - Training and US Navy Veteran[8]
  • Arie Luyendyk, 1999 by Gov. Frank O’Bannon; 1990 and 1997 Indianapolis 500 winner.[9]
  • Ellsworth Perin Scott of Madison Indiana, 2001 by Gov. Frank O’Bannon[10]
  • James A. Papke of West Lafayette, Indiana, 2001 by Gov. Frank O’Bannon. Retired Professor of Economics and Director of the Center for Tax Policy Studies at Purdue University [11]
  • Travis L. Tunis, 2002 [12]
  • Dorothy Runk Mennen, 2003[13]
  • Herbert A. Pigman, 2003 by Gov. Frank O’Bannon; Rotary International General Secretary (1979-1986, 1993-1995)[14][15]
  • David B. Becker, 2004 by Gov. Joe Kernan; founder, President, and CEO of First Internet Bank[16]
  • Richard T. Doermer, 2004 by Gov. Joe Kernan[17]
  • Thomas McDermott, Jr., 2005; Democratic Mayor of Hammond, Indiana (2004–Present)[18]
  • Mike Delph, January 2005; Indiana State Senator (December 2005-present)[19]
  • David Letterman, 2007 by Gov. Mitch Daniels; comedian and television host[20]>
  • Dr. David Wantz, 2013 by Gov. Mike Pence [21]
  • Bruce Hartman, 2013 by Gov. Mike Pence; State Examiner from 2005-2013 [22]
  • Nathan Fink, 2014 by Gov. Mike Pence; President of Hagerman Construction [23]
  • John Shepherd, 2015 by Governor Mike Pence, Municipality planning in Northwest Indiana. [24]
  • Jim Dermody, 2015 by Gov. Pence, for outstanding service in education as a teacher, coach, principal, assistant superintendent, and superintendent during his career. [25]
  • Steve Dietrich, 2015 by Governor Mike Pence, West Lafayette City Councilor, retired Captain of Detectives Purdue University Police Department. [26]
  • Charlie Pride, 2015 by Governor Mike Pence, for 36 years of outstanding state service as a supervisor for the Indiana State Board of Accounts. [27]
  • Jeff Gordon, 2015 by Governor Mike Pence, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2014 Brickyard 400 Winner. [28]
  • Jenny Spenard (Scudder), 1985 by Gov. Robert Orr

Sachem Award[edit]

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[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]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Indianapolis Monthly, September 2004, Page 143
  3. ^ obituary [1], accessed 28 Oct 2011
  4. ^ "Mary jane Barker Beaman Phillippe of Greenwood" Zionsville Times Sentinel, October , 2010 accessed April 11, 2011
  5. ^ Eugene Gigli Obituary at The Scranton Times, 11.August 2011 Retrieved 17.August 2013
  6. ^
  7. ^ "The Environment Report: Staff & Producers" The Environment Report, accessed April 11, 2011
  8. ^ ("", Obituaries July 2010
  9. ^ "Indy 500 - Drivers, Mechanics Honored". IRL ( May 29, 1999. Retrieved September 14, 2015. 
  10. ^ McCollum, Konnie "Scout for Life" RoundAbout Madison, Feb, 2008 accessed April 11, 2011
  11. ^
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Derr, Joseph. The Roterian. Rotary International, April 2003, p. 49.
  15. ^ "Herbert A. Pigman" Rotary Global History Fellowship, accessed April 11, 2011
  16. ^
  17. ^ "Doermer School of Business: About Richard T. Doermer", accessed April 11, 2011
  18. ^ "Lake County Democratic Central Committee: Thomas McDermott - Chairman" Lake County Democratic Central Committee, accessed April 11, 2011
  19. ^ "Senator Delph To Speak About Immigration To Silent No More Group". Times-Union. August 12, 2010. 
  20. ^,1370,32363-2914-54503,00.html
  21. ^
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  26. ^
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ Jankowski, Jane "Wooden first honoree for new award created by Governor Daniels" Governor Daniels Press Release, March 3, 2006 accessed April 10, 2011
  30. ^