Indiana's top award honors longtime Notre Dame president

by Greg Hafkin

Gov. Mitch Daniels on Tuesday honored the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, former president of the University of Notre Dame, with the state’s top honor: the Sachem.

Hesburgh, 88, served as the university’s president from 1952-87. The Sachem is just the latest award for the priest, who also has a Presidential Medal of Freedom, a Congressional Gold Medal and 150 honorary university degrees.

The Sachem has its roots in the Confederacy of the Sachems, an honorary society established by Gov. Edgar Whitcomb in 1970 for prominent Hoosiers.

The society was discontinued when Whitcomb’s administration ended, but Daniels resurrected it in the form of an annual award.
Two awards were announced this month. Indiana native John Wooden, who coached UCLA to a record 10 NCAA men’s basketball championships, was named the 2005 recipient, and officials are arranging to get the award to the basketball legend.
The presentation to Hesburgh is the first formal Sachem ceremony presided over by Daniels.

“We should never deny ourselves the lift and the spiritual uplift that can come from taking time to see what is remarkable, what is the best that humans can be, and in our case the best that a Hoosier can be,” Daniels said, explaining why he brought back the Sachem.

Hesburgh was born in Syracuse, N.Y., and arrived at Notre Dame in 1934 to pursue his bachelor’s degree.

“And I’ve been a Hoosier ever since,” he said when he accepted the award, a statue featuring a scroll and a tomahawk.

Daniels said he intends the Sachem to be awarded at least once a year.

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