When culture wars hit Fort Wayne

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Arp also saw the problem through the lens of the polarization of the Trump era. “There’s something about the ethics or the zeitgeist of the country right now, where people decided that they were going to be on one side or the other of some sort of, you know, a great division ‘awakened’, “Arp told me, adding,” Anything that is patriotic is automatically bad in the eyes of some people. It’s automatically aligned with some sort of “ism” or “phobia”, without any discussion of merits or the actual story. “

So what was the real story? Like many other arguments from the Trump era, this question would soon boil over.

One of the first people he started scalding was Geoff’s paddock, the other Democrat on the city council. At first he took little interest in the debate. While Hines vehemently opposed Wayne Day’s resolution, Paddock did not speak at the meeting and then joined the majority who voted in favor. At the time, Paddock later told me, his only thought was that it would be bad for the town if his council rejected his namesake.

But a few days later a retired pastor in the Paddock District, John Gardner, asked her for a copy of the resolution – writing that from what he had heard it “seems to express the feelings and work of a white nationalist,” according to emails that I obtained it under a public archives act.

Paddock, who also ran a nonprofit that developed a riverside park near the city center, forwarded the request to the board administrator, Megan Flohr, telling him he would try to convince the pastor that he was not a white nationalist.

“There’s no winning on this one,” Flohr replied. “If that failed, you would all have been dragged out for not supporting the story. But to pass it is to raise these points. Now in.”

“Yes,” Paddock wrote. “I knew that when it was introduced. Hopefully we’ll get away with this one.

Gardner later told me that he had been simmering about Wayne Day since he first heard about it, viewing it as an “intimidating” gesture which he felt seemed to reflect the same animosity. racialist behind the 2017 “Unite the Right” rally by White Nationalists in Charlottesville, Virginia. But after receiving a copy of the resolution, Gardner decided to read a biography of Wayne.

What he learned in Wayne’s real-life book, he said, made him “even more enraged.”

As I was sorting out this debate myself as I studied books and interviewed historians, I was struck by how sanitized my childhood exposure to my hometown past had been. In the period after Fort Wayne was built and before the natives were forced to leave, it could be a lousy place.

The government used the fort to distribute the annual treaty payments it had promised to the natives in return for giving up their land. The money attracted white traders who sold them manufactured goods and alcohol, turning the days of rent into exploitative bacchanals, according to contemporary accounts.

In the grip of growing alcoholism and reliance on annuities, local tribes like the Miami have declined, unable to adapt to the new culture of private property and Yeoman agriculture, as an aging little turtle advocated, nor to preserve their way of life. Between annuity days, traders encouraged tribes to buy on credit, accumulating debts that their existing payments could not cover. The government used this momentum to continually push Miami’s rulers to sell more and more reserve land and then agree to the tribe’s eventual withdrawal.

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