Tecumseh Returns To Darke County With Emotional Statue Unveiling


GREENVILLE—In conjunction with the Darke County Park District’s 50th anniversary, the Darke County Parks District (DC Parks) held the inaugural installation of the Darke County Art Trail on Friday afternoon at the Shawnee Prairie Nature Preserve.

The Darke County Center for the Arts (DCCA) started the plans in 2020, for the Darke County Public Art Trail as part of their initiative to showcase public artworks available to Darke County residents. 

The event honored Shawnee warrior Tecumseh, and welcomed him back to Darke County, where he lived 225 years ago. With help from the Absentee Shawnee, the Eastern Shawnee and the Shawnee tribes, DCCA and DC Parks unveiled a sculpture of Tecumseh made by Joshua Shepherd, of Union City, Ind.

Shepherd also created the Little Turtle statue in the Greenville City Park.

Funds of $40,000 for the project were secured through State Senator Matt Huffman’s office from the Ohio Capital Budget, with hopes that additional funding will be granted for future installations throughout the county. 

With dignitaries from the local, state and federal levels, as well as around 200 guests in attendance, Roger Van Frank, DC Parks Director said the event is a great milestone for the parks.

“The Tecumseh statue is the final product of hard work and collaboration of the Darke County Center for the Arts, the Darke County Park District and of course the State of Ohio, along with all of the capital funds that have gone into this project,” he said. “We thank the state for that. It could not have been done without it.”

In addition to celebrating the DC Parks anniversary and the Art Trail, the event also marked a professional milestone of Van Frank’s as well. 

“It’s been a labor of love for me,” he said. “I’m going to get choked up, because I’m going to retire in December. This is my last big hurrah. So, let’s make it a good one.”

Multiple leaders within the Absentee Shawnee, Eastern Shawnee and Shawnee tribes attended the event. 

Chief Glenn Wallace, of the Eastern Shawnee, said while her tribe was the first to be removed from Ohio in 1832, Ohio will always be home.

“We took everything that we owned, with the exception that we always left part of our heart here,” she said. “That part of the heart is still always here. Ohio will always be our home land.”

Following her remarks, Chief Wallace handed out several historical Shawnee tribe lapel pins to attendees.

Governor John R. Johnson, of the Absentee Shawnee, became emotional when he discussed Tecumseh’s legacy.

“He surrounded all the other tribes to fight for the land to keep the sellers from coming in years ago in the 1800s,” he said. “It was written, ‘A man with remarkable charisma, intelligent, bravery, strength.’ He spent his whole life fighting for independence and unity.”

The Tecumseh Statue marked just one stop on the Darke County Art Trail. Additional stops will be highlighted throughout the county and maps will soon be available. An additional request for funding has been proposed for the Capital Budget to add more stops along the trail.

The Darke County Art Trail was presented with help from DC Parks, Wayne HealthCare, Darke County Visitors Bureau, with support from Darke County Endowment for the Arts, Ohio Art Council and Ohio Facilities Construction Commission.

Contact DCCA to make a donation in support of the Darke County Art Trail at 937-547-0908, info@darkecountyarts.org or DarkeCountyArts.org.

“A single twig breaks. But the bundle of twigs is strong.” — Tecumseh, Shawnee Chief and Warrior