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Blue Jacket Inc. unveils statue to honor organization's namesake Chief BlueJacket

Allen County Commissioner Richard Beck, Blue Jacket Inc. Executive Director Anthony Hudson, sculpture artist Sayaka Ganz, Chief BlueJacket descendent Lee BlueJacket and Blue Jacket Inc. board president Donnell Miller cut a blue ribbon in front of the Chief BlueJacket statue unveiled by Blue Jacket Inc. on Friday, July 15, 2022.
BRITTANY SMITH
/
WBOI
Allen County Commissioner Richard Beck, Blue Jacket Inc. Executive Director Anthony Hudson, sculpture artist Sayaka Ganz, Chief BlueJacket descendent Lee BlueJacket and Blue Jacket Inc. board president Donnell Miller cut a blue ribbon in front of the Chief BlueJacket statue unveiled by Blue Jacket Inc. on Friday, July 15, 2022.
Lee BlueJacket stands in front of the statue of Chief BlueJacket on Friday, July 15, 2022. Lee, a descendent of the chief, traveled from Bluejacket, Oklahoma for the unveiling of the statue.
BRITTANY SMITH
/
WBOI
Lee BlueJacket stands in front of the statue of Chief BlueJacket on Friday, July 15, 2022. Lee, a descendent of the chief, traveled from Bluejacket, Oklahoma for the unveiling of the statue.

The statue sits along Calhoun Street, facing traffic heading south out of downtown. A likeness of Chief BlueJacket stands atop a large swan with a garden and stone path around him.

Chief BlueJacket was a great war chief of the Shawnee people who was known for unifying tribes that typically fought against each other to defend Shawnee lands from Southern Ohio up to the Wabash River in Northeast Indiana.

More than fifteen descendants of Chief BlueJacket came from across the country to witness the dedication of the statue. Lee BlueJacket came from Bluejacket, Oklahoma, which was founded by the chief’s grandson.

He says he’s grateful for Blue Jacket Inc. helping more people learn about Chief BlueJacket.

“It does get very emotional because there’s a lot of people that don’t know about him and it would be nice if more did because of all the things he did for his people,” Lee said.

At the unveiling, both Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Allen County Commissioner Richard Beck read a declarations for the day in honor of Chief BlueJacket.

The statue of Chief BlueJacket, created by Fort Wayne sculpture artist Sayaka Ganz, sits near the sidewalk on South Calhoun Street next to Blue Jacket Inc.'s campus.
BRITTANY SMITH
/
WBOI
The statue of Chief BlueJacket, created by Fort Wayne sculpture artist Sayaka Ganz, sits near the sidewalk on South Calhoun Street next to Blue Jacket Inc.'s campus.

Blue Jacket Inc. is a non-profit that provides training and opportunities to those who face barriers in finding employment and was named after the chief.

The sculpture was made by local Fort Wayne artist, Sayaka Ganz, who researched the Shawnee tribe and the Chief himself, as well as consulted with some of his descendents.

Ganz was born in Yokohama, Japan and now lives in Fort Wayne. She uses reclaimed metal and plastic to create her art.

Blue Jacket Inc. also announced that it will be opening a cafe in the Calhoun Street area, called Tall Rabbit Cafe. The name was one of Chief BlueJacket’s nicknames.

The cafe will serve Utopian Coffee and the menu from Calhoun Street Soups, Salads and Spirits, which closed in August 2018.

The Shawnee people were one of the original First Nation groups in Northeast Indiana and Ohio.

The cafe will serve as an employment opportunity for those Blue Jacket helps.

Ella Abbott is a multimedia reporter for 89.1 WBOI. She is a strong believer in the ways audio storytelling can engage an audience and create a sensory experience.