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Society of Sagamores

The Sagamore of the Wabash

The Sagamore of the Wabash award was created during the term of Governor Ralph Gates, who served from 1945 to 1949. Governor Gates was to attend a tri-state meeting in Louisville with officials from the States of Ohio and Kentucky.  Aides to Gov. Gates learned the governor of Kentucky was preparing a Kentucky Colonel Certificate for Governor Gates and U.S. Senator Robert A. Taft, who represented the State of Ohio. It was decided Indiana should have an appropriate award to present in return and thus The Sagamore of the Wabash award was born.   

The award also carries with it a new assignment—counselor to the sitting governor.  The term “sagamore” itself was used by the Indiana’s first citizens (the Algonquin-language Delaware Tribe) to describe a lesser chief to whom the true chief would look for wisdom and advice.

Sagamore Institute took its name from the inspiration of the Delaware Tribe and the Indiana governors’ award since our think tank sought to deliver wise counsel to leaders making decisions and taking actions to improve society.  In 2016, Sagamore launched the Indiana Conference on Citizenship and Society of Sagamores to help governors mobilize the award recipients’ ideas and contributions.

“You know, the highest honor an Indiana governor gives is called the Sagamore of the Wabash…[It’s] given for wisdom, and public commitment, and a concern for the well-being of others. So, I’d say that Sagamore chose its name well, and is living up to it every day.” 

– Former Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels

Society of Sagamores

When Indiana’s most distinguished citizens receive the Sagamore of the Wabash award, they read a parchment that calls them to serve as counsel to the governor. To enlist our best minds and talents to make Indiana better was Governor Gates’ inspiration in 1942 to bestow the honor.

The formation of the Society of the Sagamores will facilitate this grand vision by designing creative opportunities for the Sagamores to dialogue with the sitting governor, past governors, and other state leaders in pursuit of innovative solutions to our greatest challenges.

Key Features of the Society of Sagamores:

  • Annual luncheon in Indianapolis or regional city
  • Interaction with state political leaders and national leaders
  • Opportunities to offer policy counsel and civic service
  • Inspire the next generation of Indiana citizens

2017 Award Ceremony