230. Chief Kokomo

Joe Cross portraying Chief Kokomo (right) in 2003 - with his appearance more historically and tribally accurate than the well-known artist renditions of Kokomo

There is no definitive story concerning Chief Kokomo. It is unclear if he was a Miami Indian Chief as claimed or was a minor leader in the tribe. It is also unclear what his name actually was: Kokomo, Kokomoko, Makokamo, or any of several other variants. What is sure is that he did live in this area. His name was recorded at least four times in trading post records in Miami County, all using different spellings. Chief Kokomo’s personality is also unknown. Some report him as a drunk, others as a giving person who was kind, still others cast him as a loner. David Foster, the founder of Kokomo, shows him in yet a different light. Foster stated he named his town Kokomo because “it turned out to be the orneriest town on earth, so I named it after the orneriest Indian on earth – Kokomo.” However, it is unclear if Foster ever met Chief Kokomo as Foster arrived in the area in 1840 and Kokomo died in 1838 or 1841 depending on which report is to be believed.

Learn more about Kokomo and Howard County's early history on our website at hchistory.org.

Monument to Kokomo placed in the Pioneer Cemetary - although his actual gravesite is unknown