Crowdfunding for public park honoring Indigenous peoples
Vincennes locals are raising funds through a crowdfunding campaign called “Niihka Park” to transform an underused area of the Vincennes Riverwalk into a public park that pays tribute to Indiana’s Indigenous peoples. The campaign seeks to gather $35,000 by June 17 and could receive additional funding from the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority’s CreatINg Places program.
The proposed park will include a nature playground, interpretive signs, native plantings, and a sample woodland Native American village. The project is being led by the Knox County Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area and assisted by Wabash Valley Progressives and aims to raise awareness about the Miami Nation and other Indigenous groups in the area.
Will Drews, Wabash Valley Progressives President, expressed excitement about the project and the opportunity to create a welcoming public park area along the Wabash River.
“We expect this park to drastically increase tourism to the Vincennes area,” said Drews. “As far as our group knows, this will be the first park dedicated to indigenous cultures in the SW Indiana area.”
Drews noted that at a certain point in time, the Miami Nation, which consisted of various tribes such as the Greater Miamis, Piankeshaw, Wea, Shockneys, and Eel River, was among the largest and most influential tribes in North America. Chief Little Turtle, a notable leader of the Miami Nation, once declared that their territory encompassed the entirety of Indiana, part of Ohio, and part of Illinois, indicating that their culture had a widespread presence across Indiana.
During the mid-1700s to 1800s, the Miami Nation played a significant role in safeguarding the land that now constitutes Indiana. In the village of Vincennes, there existed a Piankeshaw settlement known as Aciipihkahkionki, which translates to “at root land.”
The park will feature a permanent installation of the Myaamia Center’s traveling exhibit, “Niihka, Our Friends,” highlighting the Miami people’s history and culture.
Anticipating challenges with funding the project, WVP is seeking to crowdfund through Patronicity. The goal is to gather $35,000, allowing the organization to receive an additional $35,000 from Indiana Housing & Community Development Authority and fully finance the project.
“The enhancement of the Vincennes Riverwalk will further engage and educate residents and visitors,” said Lt. Gov. Suzanne Crouch, Indiana’s Secretary of Agriculture and Rural Development, in a former press release. “This campaign is the essence of the CreatINg Places initiative, blending a respect for the past with a vision for the future.”
Since its inception in 2016, the CreatINg Places program has raised over $7.5 million in public funds and $6.3 million in matching IHCDA funds for various projects in Indiana communities.
Eligible projects must have a minimum total development cost of $10,000, with recipients receiving $5,000 in IHCDA matching funds if they successfully raise $5,000 through Patronicity. IHCDA will provide matching grant funds of up to $50,000 per project.
Those seeking further information about the project and its influence can contact the Wabash Valley Progressives.