American Indian Marker Dedicated
The state historical marker commemorating Potawatomi village leader, Stephen Benack, and his village, which remained after the forced removal of Native Americans from Indiana, was dedicated on October 8 at Potawatomi Wildlife Park near Tippecanoe in Marshall County, Indiana. The marker reads:
Osheakkebe, also known as Stephen Benack, was an ogimaa (leader) whose village was near here, 1834-1848. Born circa 1780 of Potawatomi and French-Canadian heritage, Benack resisted United States’ taking of lands long inhabited by Indians and sided with Great Britain in War of 1812. He and allied Indian leaders signed 1815 peace treaty at Spring Wells near Detroit. Indian leaders traded tribal lands in Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, and Wisconsin to U.S., 1817-1832, for annuities, reserves, and land rights. By treaty, Benack secured 2000 acres of land including his village, which remained despite U.S. forced removal of Indians from Indiana in 1830s and 1840s. Benack died in 1855 and was buried at the University of Notre Dame.
W. Ben Secunda, Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) Project Manager for the University of Michigan, gave a presentation on Stephen Benack and the history of the Potawatomi in the area that became northern Indiana and southern Michigan.
Marion Branch, NHDVS dedicated
On October 6, the Indiana Historical Bureau and the Veterans' Administration Northern Indiana Health Care System dedicated a new historical marker commemorating the Marion Branch of the National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers. The text of the marker states:
At the end of the Civil War, the U. S. undertook care of disabled Union veterans in a system of homes known by 1873 as National Home for Disabled Volunteer Soldiers (NHDVS). The offer of free natural gas by Grant County residents and the efforts of local Congressman George W. Steele persuaded Congress to establish the Marion Branch of the NHDVS on July 23, 1888. Members had access to health care, training, work, and recreation. In 1920, this Branch became a neuropsychiatric hospital for World War I veterans; in 1930, it was consolidated within new Veterans Administration. As part of the VA Northern Indiana Health Care System, facility continues to care for veterans. Some original buildings and National Cemetery remain.
Among the many speakers at the dedication were Indiana State Representative, Kevin Mahan, and Director of the VA Northern Health Care System, Daniel Hendee. Several speakers noted that the current VA hospital is still today fulfilling its mission to serve veterans, 123 years after the establishment of the Marion Branch. Many veterans attended the ceremony, including Douglas Smith who sang the National Anthem.
Right: IHB staff member Jill Weiss speaks at the dedication ceremony.
IHB extends thanks to Mitchell Porter of Daviess County and Chris Hammock's Park Tudor students, all dedicated marker volunteers. In the past year, Mitchell has taken on refurbishment of five historical markers. What inspires this dedication? Mitchell says, "Our 'stories' are one of the most important life lessons we can leave for those behind us: historical markers serve as bookmarks for these stories."
Park Tudor (Marion County) students refurbished the Civil War Arsenal and Home of Charles Warren Fairbanks markers and could be seen working on the Lincoln marker right on Washington Street in late October. Ms. Hammock's classes visit historic sites and fix ailing markers as part of enrichment activities. Student Riley Allen "felt good about giving back to the community" and said that the part of the Civil War Arsenal refurbishment he enjoyed most was "washing the marker and splashing a few of the workers."
IHB welcomes another school to our adopt-a-marker program this month: St. Jude School (St. Joseph County) 4th graders refurbished the badly-worn Indiana Territorial Line marker. Thank you to Jeff Hawkins, who noticed the problem and enlisted their aid.
Left: Mitchell Porter repaints the lettering of the Vincennes Donation Lands marker, Daviess County.