Rep. Duncan receives Sagamore of the Wabash award from Gov. Daniels

Governor Mitch Daniels surprised Representative Cleo Duncan recently when he honored her with the Sagamore of the Wabash Award for her 16 years of service to the Indiana General Assembly.

“I scheduled a meeting with the governor to say farewell and to give thanks for everything he has done for me and for our state over the years,” said Rep. Duncan. “So, needless to say, I was genuinely surprised and much honored to receive such a prestigious award.”

The Sagamore of the Wabash is an honorary award created by the State of Indiana during the term of Governor Ralph Gates (1945-1949). While attending a tri-state meeting with Ohio and Kentucky, Gov. Gates received a Kentucky Colonel certificate. The Indiana delegate decided to create an appropriate award to present in return creating the Sagamore of the Wabash.

The term “sagamore” was the term used by Algonquian-speaking American Indian tribal chiefs. It means a lesser chief to whom the tribe’s chief would turn for wisdom and advice. The Wabash is the State River of Indiana as well as a major tributary to the Ohio River.

Each governor since Gov. Gates has presented the award in his own way. Until 2006, the award was the highest honor which the Governor of Indiana bestows a personal tribute to someone who has made a significant contribution to life in the Hoosier state.

After serving House District 67 for 16 years, Rep. Duncan made the announcement in May she would be retiring from the General Assembly.

She has helped pass several pieces of legislation that have had a great impact on the State of Indiana, as well as other surrounding states.

One of the most significant was her Move Over/Slow Down legislation, which requires motorists to move over or slow down for emergency or law enforcement vehicles. All 50 states have passed similar legislation since then.

She was also a co-author of Indiana’s Major Moves legislation launching an aggressive 10-year, $12 billion transportation plan to significantly improve and expand Indiana’s highway infrastructure.”

Another significant piece was Kelly’s Bill, which allows murder victim’s families an opportunity to have their voice be heard during a defendant’s sentencing hearing.
In addition, Rep. Duncan has worked to continue finding new ways to improve autism training and awareness, publicize safe haven laws, enforce ignition interlocks and encourage women in leadership.

Rep. Duncan currently serves on the House Committee on Roads and Transportation as the Ranking Minority Member, and on the Committee on Financial Institutions. She served previously on House committees concerning public policy, human affairs, ethics and veteran affairs.

She has also been very involved in House District 67, serving on many boards and committees.

“I have had such a wonderful experience serving our community and the State. I want to thank Gov. Daniels, again, for honoring me with this award,” Duncan said.

“I have served House District 67 the best way I knew how, and just because I will no longer be an elected official, doesn’t mean I plan to stop serving my community. We have such a great district here and I plan to continue, in one way or another, making it better,” she concluded.

Rep. Duncan and her husband, John, have lived in Greensburg for 40 years. They have three daughters, three sons-in-law, and five grandchildren.