Almost Yesterday: Chief Sagamore Goes To Lake Wappapello

Oct 13, 2020

It seems like Almost Yesterday that a twenty-two foot tall fiberglass statue of an Indian chief was placed on the top of Houck Stadium in Cape Girardeau. At the time, Southeast Missouri State athletic teams were known as The Indians, and for nearly a decade the giant figure greeted those who attended sporting events at Houck Field or Houck Field House.

For many students and alumni at Southeast the mascot for the athletic teams had long been known as Chief Sagamore, an Algonquin name for leader or chieftain, and the year book at Southeast was also named ”The Sagamore.”  Thus, it was natural for fans of Southeast Athletics to refer to the figure towering over Houck Field as  “Chief Sagamore.”

 The giant Indian Statue was moved to Houck Stadium from The War Drum Restaurant in Sikeston - a site which was briefly the location of the second Lambert’s Restaurant.

 The national movement to eliminate the use of Indian symbols as mascots led to the university removal of the giant figure and it was placed in storage at the back of the university campus.  There, a nephew of Nancy and David Bowman of Lake Wappapello saw the Indian and took a series of photographs to show his aunt and uncle, the owners of Chaonia Landing Resort and Marina on the northwest corner of the lake.
The Bowmans came to the campus, purchased the chieftain, and transported him to their resort.  When his damaged arm was repaired and a fresh coat of paint applied, Allison Construction Company hoisted the chief to the top of the lookout above the resort, and today Chief Wappalese stands tall and proud, high above the deep waters of Lake Wappapello.