Way back in 1777, the Continental Congress, meeting in Philadelphia, voted to set aside the first of May to honor the Lenape sachem Tamanend, the Native American chief who made a Great Treaty with William Penn at the founding of Pennsylvania.
According to Gus Wiencke "Tamanend was a partner with William Penn in a boldly conceived agreement dated
1683 that Europeans and Indians would live together in peace as long as the
creeks and rivers run and while the sun, moon, and stars endure.
"As an Indian, Tamanend trusted Penn and his lofty ideal of a commonwealth of freedom, peace, and tolerance for all inhabitants," Wiencke stated.
Residents of the new nation recognized Tamanend as the Patron Saint of America, calling him "St. Tammany," and May 1 is celebrated in numerous states even today, especially in the state of Pennsylvania, as "St. Tammany Day."
He became a legend, and years later St. Tammany Parish was named after him to recognize and honor the Native American heritage of the St. Tammany area.
Re-establishing the Continental Congress' Tribute
On March 26, 2003 U.S. Representative David Vitter of Louisiana's First Congressional District introduced a Concurrent Resolution into Congress that would have made May 1 of that year "Tamanend Day" nationwide.
The proposed Concurrent Resolution aimed to declare St. Tammany Day on May 1, 2003, as a national day of recognition for Tamanend and the goals and values he represented.
The resolution read in part as follows:
"Whereas in 1810, President James Madison declared the Territory of West Florida to be a part of the Louisiana Purchase, and in 1811, William C. C. Claiborne, the first American territorial Governor of Louisiana, named the area north of Lake Pontchartrain as ‘St. Tammany Parish’ in honor of the saintly Amerindian Tamanend, who was a sachem of the Lenni Lenape;
"Whereas Tamanend is admired and respected for his virtues of honesty, integrity, honor, fairness, justice, and equality for the common person;
"Whereas, in colonial times, May 1st was celebrated in honor of Tamanend and the common person; and
"Whereas the St. Tammany Parish Council of St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana, has passed a resolution designating May 1, 2003, as St. Tammany Day, and urging the reinstatement of May 1st as a national day of recognition for Tamanend and the values he represented.
Resolved by the House of Representatives (the Senate concurring), That Congress supports the goals and ideals of St. Tammany Day as a national day of recognition for Tamanend and the values he represented.
Aicklen of Lacombe remembers taking part in the research and promotion
of designating May 1 as Tamanend Day. It was an important
recognition of why St. Tammany Parish was named as it was, promoting the
spirit of peace and harmony that Chief Tamanend personified.
Aicklen pointed out that St. Tammany Day (May 1) is also first day of National Tourism Week (May 1 - 7). That first week of May, starting off with St. Tammany Day followed by six days of promoting the many unique tourist attractions of the parish, could become an annual event spotlighting all of St. Tammany's outstanding people and places.