INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — The Sagamore of the Wabash is a high civilian honor granted only by the governor, an award that Mitch Daniels seldom gave out.
Gov. Mike Pence has a new approach and it means the Sagamore is back.
State lawmakers have been informed by the governor that they can each nominate two people a year to receive the Sagamore of the Wabash. For lawmakers, including Democrat David Niezgodski of South Bend, it's an opportunity to reward people who live in his district.
"I think it's a great honor," Niezgodski said.
The Sagamore was the highest civilian honor in Indiana until Mitch Daniels became governor.
He created a higher honor, the Sachem Award (which is given annually to just one Indiana native or resident) in part because he thought too many people owned a Sagamore.
"The currency's been badly cheapened," Daniels said in 2005.
In the '80's Governor Bob Orr gave out more than 4,000 Sagamores.
Governors Evan Bayh and Frank O'Bannon distributed more than 3,000, each.
Daniels gave out just 245 Sagamores.
"Mitch Daniels gave these things out like he had to pay for them himself," says former state GOP Chairman Mike McDaniel, who is a fan of the new Pence policy, even though he has three Sagamores of his own. "But the people who get them are well-deserved Hoosiers," he says.
Look for Pence to hand out more than Mitch Daniels, and less than Bob Orr.
Plans also call for Pence to also continue to give out the Sachem award once a year.
So far he has only handed out a handful of Sagamores and while lawmakers will nominate as many as 300 people in total, it's possible that not all of them will actually receive a Sagamore.
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