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Shawnee warriors thunder across the stage in Blue Jacket
Expert horsemanship is exhibited as Shawnee warriors thunder across the stage in Blue Jacket Photo: First Frontier, Inc.

Blue Jacket Outdoor Drama

An outdoor drama in Xenia, Ohio, which presents the Ohio Valley, specifically the Greene County, Ohio, area as it was in the late 1700s and the struggle between the advancing frontiersmen and the Indians who fought to retain their homeland through the portrayal of the life of the Shawnee War Chief, Blue Jacket.

In the drama, Blue Jacket is portrayed as a white man named Marmaduke Van Swearingen. At age 17, he and his younger brother Charlie were surprised by a Shawnee hunting party and Marmaduke was taken to Kispoko Town to undergo the adoption ritual of the Shawnee while Charlie was allowed to return to his home. Marmaduke went willingly, as he had long been enamored by the Indian way of life and was eager to become a part of it. Because of the blue hunting jacket he was wearing, he was given the Shawnee name, Wey-yah-pih-ehr-sehn-weh -- Blue Jacket.

In the drama, Blue Jacket lived his life as a Shawnee, and was ultimately named War Chief of the Shawnee Nation. Blue Jacket's story is really about the land. The Shawnee strongly believed that the earth was sacred; that they did not own the land, but were custodians of it, and when they died, they became a part of it. This belief that the land was sacred would eventually lead to conflict with the white man.

As the white settlers flooded into the Ohio Valley in the late 1700s, the Shawnee and other Indians who shared their beliefs, were determined to stand and fight. It was during these turbulent years that Blue Jacket became a respected Shawnee warrior and eventually the War Chief of the Shawnee Nation. It is his story that Blue Jacket tells.

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In addition to information on the drama, the project also contains letters from the family of Chief Blue Jacket that contest the historical accuracy of the drama, and which note genealogical studies showing that Blue Jacket was a Shawnee Indian, not a white man.

Originally submitted by: David L. Hobson, Representative (7th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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