In 1866, the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland (Anne Arundel County) received the USS Delaware figurehead featuring Chief Tamanend of the Lenni Lenape, or Delaware, people. Tamanend rose to national prominence after leading peaceful relations with William Penn. The ship had been purposefully sunk to prevent Confederate soldiers from acquiring it during the Civil War, but the wooden figurehead was able to be recovered from the shipwreck. The original figurehead remained on display for 64 years.
In 1930, the Naval Academy Class of 1891 sponsored the creation of a bronze replica in order to better preserve the campus icon. During this process, fragments of the original wooden figure were incorporated into the new sculpture. Over time, the sculpture has become more widely known as “Tecumseh,” a Shawnee leader famous for uniting tribal opposition to westward expansion, rather than as Tamanend. Today, midshipmen carry on the tradition of offering pennies to the figurehead as a token of good luck.
Image: Tamanend Statue, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD (Adam Fagen/Flickr)
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