Fort Wayne based nonprofit, Blue Jacket, Inc. dedicated a sculpture recognizing its namesake and honoring the great Shawnee War Chief Blue Jacket on Friday, July 15th at noon. A small reception followed, featuring an exciting announcement about future growth of the organization and its campus on S. Calhoun with over 200 in attendance.
Allen County Commissioner Rich Beck and City of Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry were present issuing a proclamation along with a representative from Congressman Jim Banks’ office. Organizers are exhilarated at who was in attendance; sixteen (16) Shawnee descendants of Chief Blue Jacket who travelled from all over the country, predominantly Oklahoma. Tony Hudson, Executive Director of Blue Jacket, reflected, “It is nerve wracking to me that descendants bearing the name of this brilliant legend will be present, because I fear we will fall short in honoring the legacy of someone whose life story captivates me.”
The 13-foot-tall fine art sculpture was created by local artist with an international influence, Sayaka Ganz. When creating the Chief Blue Jacket sculpture, Sayaka spent a significant amount of time researching Shawnee culture and Chief Blue Jacket himself. Sayaka expressed, “I hope that this sculpture will give the people who come to Blue Jacket a sense of dignity and hope and a sense of resilience because of the use of the materials and also the subject matter portrayed.”
The sculpture signals to the Fort Wayne community, specifically the south side neighborhoods, that Blue Jacket, Inc. is planning to invest much more time and energy into its campus acting as a bellwether for an economic comeback on Calhoun Street south of Pontiac St. Blue Jacket, Inc. wants to build upon the improvements made in the northern portion of this historic corridor by businesses such as Saigon Restaurant, Sanco Industries, the Oyster Bar, and Neighborhood Health Clinic and to also be the connector to the anchor South Side High School.
The sculpture will act as the flagship for a sculpture garden adorned with new landscaping, new flag poles, new decorative fencing, an upgraded gazebo intending to bring pride to Blue Jacket clients and neighbors alike to also serve as a place for meetings or a cozy respite.
As a teaser for an exciting announcement, guests tasted gourmet coffee from Utopian Coffee and catered hors d’oeuvres from the once fan favorite Calhoun Street Soups, Salads & Spirits (CS3) and visited Blue Jacket’s art gallery. An announcement was made about the Tall Rabbit coffee shop pilot launching in a few months to build are larger café on the same block as the Blue Jacket offices some time in 2024.