The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, July 16, 2019 1:00 am

City must reckon with its namesake's history

Misty-Dawn Shelly and Timothy C. Murphy

The passing of a resolution from City Councilman Jason Arp earlier this year makes today, July 16, the first Anthony Wayne Day in recognition of Fort Wayne's namesake. However, we believe this resolution overlooks the fact that Fort Wayne sits on the ancestral lands of the Miami people.

Chief Douglas Lankford of the Miami Tribe sent a letter to the City Council to remind us that almost 200 Miami Tribe citizens still live in and around the city and that an accurate historical record is important to all citizens of this country.

Though we may come from different traditions, we are mutually disappointed in the actions – or rather, inactions – of our City Council. Based on this resolution, we see that the actions of conquest will be honored and celebrated with no regard to the recorded historical data of the Miami Tribe, nor the Fort Wayne History Center.

As faith leaders in our community, we are committed to amplifying the voices of those marginalized in our city. Individually and together, we speak out against economic disparities, racism, homophobia, sexism, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia.

Today we invite the Fort Wayne community to resist honoring a day of celebration for an individual who led armed forces to murder and conquer the people of this land. We call for those determined to celebrate “Mad” Anthony Wayne as the founder of this city to listen to our indigenous citizens who have repeatedly asked that we hear them, that we listen to their recorded history, and that we recognize the human beings who lived on this land long before Wayne and were negatively affected by his actions.

It is our community's responsibility to provide only factual accounting of the history of this conquest.

We pray that every resident of Fort Wayne commits to building a city that seeks compassionate celebrations of our rich and diverse history. We call on all people of Fort Wayne to resist inaccurate historical records, amplify the voices of the indigenous people on whose stolen land we live and deepen their understanding about the Miami people.

We invite this city's residents to visit the Miami Tribe's website (, to tour the History Center in the heart of downtown Fort Wayne and to explore the Miami Indian Heritage Days at the Chief Richardville House at 5705 Bluffton Road the first Saturday of the month from May through November.

As faith leaders, we rededicate ourselves to resist the perpetuation of a culture of white supremacy, to side with love, and to stand in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of this land, the Miami Tribe of Oklahoma.

The Rev. Misty-Dawn Shelly is minister with the Unitarian Universalist Congregation. The Rev. Dr. Timothy C. Murphy is senior pastor of Plymouth Congregational Church.

Sign up for our daily headlines newsletter

Top headlines are sent daily

Share this article