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Honoring the heritage of Native people’s past, present and future, that’s the theme of an upcoming gathering sponsored by the Kokomo Native Project.

Gil Porter, historian with Howard County, and Sally Tuttle, activist & member of the Choctaw tribe of Oklahoma, joined us Thursday representing the Indiana Department of Health.

The Kokomo Native Project: Heritage & Homeland event will be held on April 21 at Indiana University Kokomo. This event is sponsored by The Kokomo Native Project, an alliance of organizations in Howard County, Indiana, including the City of Kokomo, the Kokomo Early History Learning Center, Inc., the Howard County Historical Society, and Indiana University Kokomo.

Also attending will be representatives from the Indiana Native American Indian Affairs Commission (INAIAC). Two panel discussions are planned at IUK at 2:30 and 6 p.m. The Project creates programs and activities in support of INAIAC to educate the community and to help Native people learn more about services and support available to them in northcentral Indiana.  

Invited delegates of Indiana Native tribes will gather on ancestral homelands to discuss the history and heritage of Native peoples past, present and future.  

“Kokomo has a unique place in Indiana history, being the last-named county seat of the last- named county in the state,” said Tyler Moore, mayor of the City of Kokomo and a citizen of the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma. “We will be honored with the presence of our many tribal neighbors here. The gathering will be an ideal opportunity to discuss Native unity and sovereignty.”  

According to Gil Porter, a local history writer representing the Kokomo Early History Learning Center, Inc., Kokomo and all of Howard County today lie within the Great Miami Reserve, the last communal land of the Miami Tribe of Indians.  

“Organizing the 19th state in the union meant eliminating Indians statewide through treaty and policy,” Porter said. By 1844, he noted, the results of Indian removal reached the Wildcat Creek when a portion of a small reserve at the Rapids of Wildcat became the county seat of Richardville, later Howard, County. “We have the record of a documented effort to exempt Miami families from being forcibly removed from their homes here, an effort that failed,” he added.  

But removal could never erase Native identity and culture, according to Mayor Moore of Kokomo. “It’s important to remember that Miami tribal names remained for Indiana’s last county and its county seat at Kokomo,” Moore said.  

Honoring that heritage is the theme of the event. The public is invited to attend.  

The symposium is for educational purposes on what the tribe is doing today and how they have evolved.  

It’s the first time a city has been involved, as the Mayor of Kokomo is a descendent of the Chief who Howard County was first named (also a member of the Miami Native Tribe). Howard County was the last communal land of the Miami. 

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