Brownstown celebrates bicentennial



After celebrating the state’s official bicentennial Sunday afternoon in Brownstown, the Bicentennial Planning Committee of Jackson County has one official remaining act.

“We are going to bury the time capsule sometime next year,” chairman Cliff Sommers said.

Many of the committee members, including the 33-year-old Sommers, attended Sunday’s celebration at the Jackson County History Center. The event, celebrating the formation of Indiana on Dec. 11, 1816, was organized by the center.

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Sommers, who lives in Brownstown, said the time capsule will include letters county residents can write, pictures, memorabilia from this year’s events, newspaper clippings and any other items that residents might want to preserve. A list of those items will be made public later, he said.

The time capsule will be similar to the one the committee opened in April 2014 in anticipation of this year’s bicentennials of Jackson County on Jan. 1, Brownstown on April 8 and the state on Dec. 11. It will opened during the sestercentennial for all three in 2066.

The committee also established another long-term memorial to its work this year by dedicating its bison — one of six the committee and the Jackson County United Way helped bring to the county — during the program.

“Jackson is here, and if you walk by on the sidewalk and feel like someone is watching you, it’s probably Jackson,” Margo Brewer, a history center volunteer, said of the fiberglass bison that will have a permanent home at the center. It was named through a naming contest at the Jackson County Fair.

Sean Hildreth, a member of the bicentennial committee and resource development director for the United Way, spoke briefly about the six bison. They can be found by the State Bank of Medora, Fort Vallonia, Jackson County Courthouse, Jackson County History Center, Chateau de Pique Winery and Cafe Batar.

They were painted by local artists, Hildreth said.

Sunday’s event drew around 30 people to hear the presentations and gather to celebrate.

The event’s main speaker was Lin Montgomery, a Native American from the Cheyenne tribe who talked about the Shawnee and Miami tribes. Both tribes were in the Jackson County area during the time of settlement when Indiana became the 19th state.

“Shawnee were very active here,” Montgomery said. “Jackson County wasn’t necessarily a place to live. It was a lot of transit and a lot of trading, but they were here long enough for people to go out every spring and fall to go out and look for arrowheads.”

She said she was more familiar with the Cheyenne, who live in the western portions of the United States. The Cheyenne were Plains Indians that were known as hunters.

Montgomery was not as familiar with the tribes in the area but spent weeks researching and preparing for the presentation. She said she contacted the American Indian Center of Indiana to obtain information about the Shawnee and Miami tribes.

Montgomery brought up the fact that many places in the region — including Jackson County — have areas that could have been Indian mounds. Uncovering what could be beneath the Indian mounds requires permission and documentation, Montgomery said, but it is anyone’s guess what could be in the mounds, she said.

“Who knows what could be there,” she said of the mounds that served as burial sites and religious and ceremonial events for tribes.

Montgomery said she enjoyed finding out more about the tribes that were in the Jackson County area.

“It’s interesting to see how things are different because I couldn’t even apply what I knew about my people to anyone else,” she said.

Many of the Shawnee who inhabited the area were later moved west of the Mississippi River in Kansas and Oklahoma by the settlement of the Midwest.

For Sommers, the event brought all of the work he and so many others have put in over the last three years together.

He said he was proud of the work he and others helped accomplish.

“I’m proud of the events we organized for the community, like the New Year’s Eve event, the celebration with the Clayton Anderson concert that was a big hit,” he said. “It was great to be able to give people an experience to help them remember the bicentennial.”

Indiana and Jackson County’s bicentennial year was one many won’t forget, but many are left to wonder what everyone will talk about in 2066.

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