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I&M Donates Sullivan County Property for Native American Cultural Heritage Park

October 6, 2022

FAIRBANKS, Ind., Oct. 6, 2022 – Indiana Michigan Power formally donated 30 acres of land in southwest Indiana on Thursday to the Sullivan County American Indian Council for the Waapaahsiki Siipiiwi Mounds Historical Park.

The council is a volunteer, non-profit organization that manages the cultural heritage park that is dedicated to honoring and preserving Native American history and tradition.

“This is a place for families to come and enjoy themselves, and to relax,” said Alice Bernard, longtime Waapaahsiki Siipiiwi Park volunteer and Mohican descendent. “I’m really proud of this park, and I hope people seek us out, because it’s really worth the trip. I think it will put joy in their hearts.”

The council has leased the land from AEP since 2007, preserving a site that contains two historical ceremonial mounds. The park was dedicated in 2013.

The land is located south of Terre Haute on property that was once part of the Breed generation plant, which closed in 1994 and was later dismantled.

“The local Native American council and park volunteers have a clear passion for this park,” said Bobby Maiorana, AEP real estate agent for the I&M service territory. “It is clear that they appreciate these grounds, and I&M and AEP are pleased to formally transfer ownership of the property to the council.”

The park has become a spiritual destination for Native American groups, both local and several states away. It has emerged as a place of cultural gatherings, worship and celebrations. Drum ceremonies and native dances are often conducted at Waapaahsiki Siipiiwi, which also features an interpretive heritage walk, a traditional medicine wheel, tribute gardens and numerous sculptures and other works of native art. Local schools often make trips to the park.

Highlighting the grounds’ historical and cultural significance are two ceremonial mounds, which were identified by an Indiana University archaeological survey commissioned by Indiana Michigan Power. According to local historical records and archaeological research, this cultural mound site in the Wabash River Valley dates back to the late Woodland Era (A.D. 500-1650).

The nearby Wabash Valley Correctional Facility in Sullivan County played a critical role in the development of the park, frequently providing inmate work crews to remove considerable brush and trash, and to clear areas that allowed for the park’s features to be developed.

John Waterman, a former Indiana state senator and Sullivan County official, was involved in the efforts to preserve the land. I&M and AEP “have been great to work with and we really appreciate all they’ve done,” Waterman said. “There’s a lot of history here. This is going to be a big blessing for us.”

As the property’s owner, the volunteer council can now apply for state funds to support maintenance and future projects. The park is currently supported only by donations, with a dedicated group of volunteers providing everyday maintenance. Future plans under consideration include walking trails and enhancement of the land surrounding the mound located across from the park.

A video about the park and the importance of the grounds is available here.

# # #
Indiana Michigan Power (I&M) is headquartered in Fort Wayne, and its approximately 2,100 employees serve more than 600,000 customers. More than 80% of its energy delivered in 2021 was emission-free. I&M has at its availability various sources of generation including 2,278 MW of nuclear generation in Michigan, 450 MW of purchased wind generation from Indiana, more than 22 MW of hydro generation in both states and approximately 35 MW of large-scale solar generation in both states. The company’s generation portfolio also includes 2,620 MW of coal-fueled generation in Indiana.

American Electric Power, based in Columbus, Ohio, is powering a cleaner, brighter energy future for its customers and communities. AEP’s approximately 16,700 employees operate and maintain the nation’s largest electricity transmission system and more than 224,000 miles of distribution lines to safely deliver reliable and affordable power to 5.5 million regulated customers in 11 states. AEP also is one of the nation’s largest electricity producers with approximately 31,000 megawatts of diverse generating capacity, including more than 7,100 megawatts of renewable energy. The company’s plans include growing its renewable generation portfolio to approximately 50% of total capacity by 2030. AEP is on track to reach an 80% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions from 2005 levels by 2030 and has committed to achieving net zero by 2045. AEP is recognized consistently for its focus on sustainability, community engagement, and diversity, equity and inclusion. AEP’s family of companies includes utilities AEP Ohio, AEP Texas, Appalachian Power (in Virginia and West Virginia), AEP Appalachian Power (in Tennessee), Indiana Michigan Power, Kentucky Power, Public Service Company of Oklahoma, and Southwestern Electric Power Company (in Arkansas, Louisiana, east Texas and the Texas Panhandle). AEP also owns AEP Energy, which provides innovative competitive energy solutions nationwide. For more information, visit aep.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Tracy Warner
Communications Manager
(260) 479-9484
tkwarner@aep.com


 

 

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