Wayne National Forest, that lush green gem nestled in the heart of Appalachian Ohio, might be in for a bit of a makeover. A potential name change has got folks talking.
So, here’s the deal: Wayne National Forest got its name from General Anthony Wayne, a big-shot hero from the American Revolutionary War. But General Wayne’s legacy isn’t all parades and fireworks. His military achievements come with a side of controversy, particularly when it comes to his dealings with Native American communities during his campaigns.
Wayne was a significant figure in American history, but also a problematic one. He played a big part in various Revolutionary War battles, like the Battle of Brandywine in Philadelphia and the Battle of Monmouth.
But there’s more to General Wayne than his military prowess. His victory at the Battle of Fallen Timbers near present-day Maumee, Ohio paved the way for the Treaty of Greenville. That treaty saw tribes agree to give up most of what would become Ohio and parts of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan to American colonists.
The general was known as “Mad Anthony”. And he made good on that name by burning down indigenous towns and crops on his way to British Fort Miami.
Folks who are pushing for this name change have a point. They say it’s high time we looked at our history through a different lens. By giving the forest a name that’s more in tune with its natural wonders and a nod to its Indigenous roots, we can show that we care about history, people, and the environment all at once.
Today, roughly 40 tribes have ancestral ties to Ohio. With the conversation around renaming the forest ramping up, the U.S. Forest Service reached out to the tribes themselves for suggestions.
According to the Forest Service, members of the Delaware Tribe, Shawnee Tribe, Absentee-Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma and Miami Tribe of Oklahoma helped choose the name “Buckeye” for the forest.
“Our intention is to listen to Tribal Nations and community members, and take the actions needed to better serve them,” said Forest Supervisor Lee Stewart. “The new name embraces the forest’s identity as Ohio’s only national forest and the welcoming, inclusive nature of the people of Ohio.”
The name change isn’t set in stone and it could cost about $400,000 to bring about. If all goes according to plan, the U.S. Forest Service will make a recommendation to the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture, who will change the name officially.
That process could take as little as a few months.
All photos via U.S. Forest Service – Wayne National Forest Facebook.