Posted on August 25, 2023

Tribes Want to Rename Ohio’s Wayne National Forest. Sen. JD Vance Does Not

Sabrina Eaton,, August 24, 2023

Native American tribes whom Gen. Anthony Wayne helped remove from Ohio more than 200 years now want to remove his name from the Southeast Ohio’s Wayne National Forest.

The Forest Service on Monday formally proposed changing the name of the 244,000-acre forest in the Appalachian foothills to the Buckeye National Forest, “in response to requests from American Indian Tribes and local community members. ”

A Forest Service press release said Wayne’s “complicated legacy includes leading a violent campaign against the Indigenous peoples of Ohio that resulted in their removal from their homelands,” and described the current forest name as “offensive because of this history of violence.” It said the tribes suggested the Buckeye National Forest name, since the buckeye is both Ohio’s state tree and the state’s nickname. Other names floated for the forest include ”Ohio National Forest” and “Koteewa National Forest.”

U.S. Sen. JD Vance on Thursday asked top Forest Service and U.S. Department of Agriculture officials to oppose the change. In a letter to Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack and Forest Service Chief Randy Moore, Vance said the name change would denigrate Ohio history and represent “a lack of fidelity to our nation’s founding generation.”


Wayne served as a general in the Revolutionary War and participated in the Constitutional Convention. His nickname was “Mad Anthony Wayne” either because of his bold military tactics, or his hot temper and penchant for “off-color language.” He was appointed Commander-in-Chief of the United States Army by President George Washington and dispatched to subdue tribes who lived in Ohio.

According to Encyclopedia Britanica, Wayne ended Indian resistance when his seasoned force of 1,000 men routed the 2,000 warriors gathered for a final confrontation near Fort Miami on the Maumee River. His victory led to the 1795 treaty of Greenville, which ceded much of Ohio and parts of Indiana, Illinois and Michigan to the United States.

It was signed by the Chippewa, Delaware, Eel River, Kaskaskia, Kickapoo, Miami, Ottawa, Piankishaw, Potawatomi, Shawnee, Wea, and Wyandot Tribes, the Forest Service says. Many of the displaced tribes now live in Oklahoma, says Wayne National Forest Supervisor Lee Stewart.

Stewart says the name change is being proposed to “listen to” and “better serve” the Tribal Nations and community members who objected to its old name. He said renaming it for the buckeye would embrace its identity “as Ohio’s only national forest and the welcoming, inclusive nature of the people of Ohio.”

Forest Service representatives said the Ohio name change was guided by a 2021 order from Interior Secretary Deb Haaland which created a Federal Advisory Committee to address derogatory and offensive geographic names. In 2022, they began discussing the issue with federally recognized American Indian Tribes with ancestral ties to Ohio. During those meetings, the tribes sought a name change for Wayne National Forest.


The Forest Service is asking interested members of the public to share their thoughts on the name change by submitting comments to the email address over the next two weeks. {snip}


Vance’s letter said the name change drive made him think “the USDA possesses such a low opinion of Ohioans that you believe us incapable of appreciating the complexities of American history,” and said he found it odd that Wayne’s name was regarded as “offensive because of this history of violence.”

“I submit to you that our nation was born in war and there would be little left of American history if we censored out all instances of violence,” Vance continued. {snip}


“It would greatly benefit Ohioans, and all Americans, if our government could be counted on to defend our Founding Fathers instead of capitulating to politically motivated renaming efforts,” Vance concluded. {snip}