By Leah Sander
WINONA LAKE — The area’s Native American history is now represented at Winona Lake’s Heritage Trail.
On Friday, Sept. 25, a sculpture titled “Native Americans” was dedicated. The sculpture is located just south of Grace College’s Beta Hall.
Created by Warsaw native Steve Perry, it’s meant to honor the Miami and Potawatomi who once resided in the area. Winona Lake Town Council President and Art Commission Chair Rick Swaim noted the Native Americans were mistreated and made to leave.
“So it’s nice at least we can have this and people can talk about it and learn a little about the history from the signage that we have up here,” Swaim said.
The sculpture has a Native American likeness on it and five symbols: a horse, wolf, eagle face, arrowhead and fire. Perry said it took only a few weeks total to create, but that was spread over about a year.
“It’s based on the Miami and Potawatomi Indians. We wanted to honor them,” said Perry. “So from there, it was a matter of going and researching and trying to find different imagery and stuff that we could incorporate into the sculpture.”
COVID-19 and other issues slowed down the completion of the project, which Perry started in summer 2019. He created it by molding concrete around styrofoam, leaving the inside hollow.
“As a whole, I love the fact of the side that it gives you a chance to go do something with your family,” he said. “There’s a place to go through and finally remember the heritage of Warsaw/Winona Lake and the area. It’s not only an exercise, but it’d be a chance to kind of pause and take in some history at this point. I think it’s just a good opportunity to get people involved and really cherish this area.”
Perry also created the sculpture of two hands down by the lake’s canal and the fiberglass Beachy the buffalo on the beach. He created Beachy for the Indiana State Fair’s Bison-tennial contest. The bison placed third.
“Native Americans” joins other sculptures including ones honoring “The Winona Queen” boat and evangelist Billy Sunday. Swaim said plans are to add one honoring Grace College in the future.
“Native Americans” was created via a donation from the Fred Rowland family and a Kosciusko County Community Foundation grant.