Next stop in my tour of Indiana — Miami County. (Say, does this remind you of the crazy peregrinations of our Democratic candidates in the lead-up to the recent Indiana primary? Did you also ask yourself, why are they going from Evansville to Gas City to New Albany to Terre Haute, or whatever? Was it alphabetical order?)
Anyway, this post is about Miami County, famed for its circus heritage and its Cole Porter Festival (June 13-15, 2008), celebrating a native son. To me, though, the county always brings to mind the Miami Nation of Indians of Indiana. In recent years, their history has been chronicled and well-documented, in part to support the Miami case for federal recognition.
My most memorable time with the Miami was when a colleague, Rita Kohn, got us invited to the installation of Chief Raymond O. White. The event took place in a banquet room at Grissom Air Force Base. It was considered an appropriate place for this important tribal ceremony because American Indians have served with pride in the U.S. armed forces, as I quickly learned. The day consisted of a luncheon, speeches, the presentation of gifts and blessings — a modern occasion with traditional elements. It was, for me, a privilege to be present and something to recall when Chief White died, tragically, only a short time later.
But the Miami continue under the leadership of their current principal chief, Brian J. Buchanan of the Godfroy Clan. That is perhaps the most important lesson I have learned from the Miami and our other Native American peoples. Even in what was once the “Land of the Indians,” they are still here.
Following the Path, a very good article on historical and contemporary Native Americans in Indiana, can be found in the Aug. 2007 Electric Consumer.