History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Native American History in Kansas - Page 2

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Kanza Indian menIn 1847, several remnants of the tribe were ordered to what was known as the "diminished reserve" at Council Grove. Concerning this movement on the part of the government of the United States, George P. Morehouse, in his Kanza Indians and Their History said: "It was not only a blunder, but it was criminal after cheating them out of their Kansas Valley homes, to remove them to Council Grove. Here, they were placed near a trading center on the Santa Fe Trail, where their contact with piejene (fire-water), the whisky of the whites, and other vices, proved far more injurious than any knowledge of civilization received could overcome. Here, they were totally neglected in a religious way, and only experiments of a brief nature undertaken for their education."


Among the Kanza the gentile system prevailed. There were seven tribal subdivisions, and these were still further divided into sixteen clans, including:  Manyinka (earth lodge), Ta (deer), Panka (Ponca), Kanza, Wasabe (black bear), Wanaghe (ghost), Kekin (carries a turtle on his back), Minkin (carries the sun on his back), Upan (elk), Khuga (white eagle), Han (night), Ibache (holds the firebrand to the sacred pipe), Hangatanga (large Hanga), Chedunga (buffalo bull), Chizhuwashtage (peacemaker), Lunikashinga (thundering people).


Ethnologically, the Osage were closely allied to the Kanza. Geographically they were divided into three bands -- Pahatsi (great), Utsehta (little), and the Santsukhdi band which lived in Arkansas.  Marquette's map of 1675 showed the tribe located on a stream believed to be the Osage River, and other explorers and writers located them in the same place. In 1686 Donay made mention of 17 villages of the Osage, but Father Jaques Gravier, eight years later, wrote from the Illinois Mission that the tribe had but one village, the other 16 being mere hunting camps occupied only at intervals. Iberville, in 1701, gave an account of a tribe of some 1,500 families living in the region of the Arkansas River, near the Kansas and Missouri Rivers, and like them, speaking a language that he took to be Quapaw.


La Harpe said the Osage were a warlike tribe which kept the Caddoan tribes in a state of terror, also the Illinois Indians, though once when the latter were driven across the Mississippi River by the Iroquois they found shelter with the Osage Nation. Friendly relations must have been established between the Osage and Illinois in the 18th century, as Charlevoix met some Osage at Kaskaskia in 1721, and Bossu reports some at Cahokia in 1756.


Early in the 18th century French traders visited the Osage and succeeded in making peace treaties with the tribe that lasted for years. In 1714 some of the Osage warriors assisted the French against the Fox Indians at Detroit, and in 1806 a Little Osage chief named Chtoka (Wet Stone) told Lieutenant Pike that he was at the defeat of General Braddock in 1755, with all the warriors of his tribe that could be spared from the village.


It is said that some of the Kanza Indians also marched to the assistance of the French on that occasion, but did not arrive in time to take part in the action. When Dutisne visited the tribe in 1719 he found on the Osage River, a village consisting of about 100 cabins and 200 warriors, while southwest, on the Little Osage was another village. Dutisne's account was the first mention of the Osage tribe in the white man's history of America.


Osage WarriorMention has been made of Dorsey's belief that the Osage Nation was originally one people, and that the division into three bands happened in at a comparatively recent period. According to Lewis and Clark, about one-half of the Great Osage, under a chief named Big Track, migrated to the Arkansas River about 1802 and laid the foundation of the Santsukhdi band. Two years after this separation, Lewis and Clark found the Great Osage, numbering 500 warriors, in a village on the south side of the Osage River, and the Little Osage, numbering 250 or 300 warriors, about six miles distant on the Arkansas River and one of its tributaries called the Vermilion River. The present Osage reservation was established in 1870.


The Indian name of the tribe was Wazhaze, which was corrupted by the French into Osage. A tribal tradition relates that originally the nation consisted of two tribes -- the Tsishu or peace people, and the Wazhaze or true Osage. The Tsishu lived on a vegetarian diet, while the Wazhazelatter, being a war people, ate meat. After a time the two tribes began to trade with each other. The Tsishu later met a warlike people called the "Hangda-utadhantse," with whom they made peace, and all three were then united under the general name of Wazhaze. After the consolidation the tribe was divided into 14 bands -- seven of the former Tsishu, five of the Hangda, and two of the Wazhaze, so that the number of bands of the peace people and the war people were equal. In forming their camps it was the custom to locate the entrance on the east side, to the left of which were the  the peace people, while the war people were on the right, in harmony with the old tradition.




Pawnee lodge home, 1871The Pawnee Nation was a confederacy of tribes belonging to the Caddoan family, and called themselves Chahiksichahiks, "men of men." As the Caddoan tribes moved northeast, the Pawnee separated from the main body somewhere near the Platte River in Nebraska, where their traditions say they acquired a territory by conquest, and where they were subsequently found by the Siouan tribes.


There is some question with regard to the origin of the name "Pawnee." The word Pani, which has become synonymous with Pawnee, means "slave." As it was from this tribe that the Algonquian tribes about the great lakes obtained their slaves, some writers maintain that the word Pawnee is equivalent to the word slave, and that the tribal name resulted from the fact that so many members of it were subjected to a state of bondage.


The tribal organization of the Pawnee was based on the village communities, which represented subdivisions of the tribe. Each village had its name, its hereditary chiefs, a shrine, priests, etc. The dominating power in their religion was Tirawa (father), whose messengers were the winds, thunder, lightning and rain. Pawnee lodges were of two types -- the common form of skins stretched over a framework of poles, and the earth lodge. The latter was circular in form, from 30 to 60 feet in diameter, partly under ground, and its construction was usually accompanied with elaborate religious ceremonies. Among the men, the only essential articles of wearing apparel were the breechcloth and moccasins, though these were supplemented by a robe and leggings in cold weather or on state occasions. After marriage a man went to live with his wife's family, though polygamy was not uncommon.


Juan de Oņate, in his account of his expedition in 1601, says the Escansaques and Quivirans were hereditary enemies, and Professor Dunbar of the Kansas Historical Society, demonstrated almost to an absolute certainty that the Quivirans mentioned by Oņate were the Pawnee, who were also the inhabitants of the ancient Indian province of Harahey. The first Pawnee to come in contact with the white man was the one whom the Spaniards of Coronado's Expedition called "the Turk." Soon after the expedition of Oņate the Spanish settlers of New Mexico became acquainted with Pawnee through their raids into the white settlements for horses, and for two centuries the Spaniards tried to establish peaceful relations with the tribe, but with only partial success. Consequently the Pawnee villages in the 17th and 18th centuries were so remote from the white settlements that they escaped the influences generally so fatal to the aborigines.


In 1702, the estimated Pawnee population was about 2,000 families. When Louisiana was purchased from France by the United States a century later the Pawnee country was south of the Niobrara River in Nebraska, extending southward into Kansas. On the west, were the Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, on the east were the Omaha, and south were the Otoe and Kanza. Soon after the Louisiana Purchase, the Pawnee came in contact with white traders from St. Louis. In September, 1806, at the Pawnee village in what is now Republic County, Kansas, Lieutenant Pike lowered the Spanish flag and raised the flag of the United States. In 1838 the number of Pawnee was estimated at 10,000, but in 1849 the tribe was reduced to about 4,500 by a cholera epidemic. Five years before this; however, they ceded to the United States, their lands south of the Platte River and were removed from Kansas. Between the years 1873 and 1875, what remained of the tribe were settled upon a reservation in the Indian Territory. At that time there were about 1,000, representing four tribes of what was once the great Pawnee Confederacy.  


The Comanche or Padouca, who inhabited western Kansas in the early part of the 18th century, were an offshoot of the Shoshone of Wyoming, as shown by their language and traditions. The Siouan name was Padouca, by which they were called in the accounts of the early French explorers, notably Bourgmont, who visited the tribe in 1724. As late as 1805, the North Platte River was known as the Padouca Fork. At that time, the Comanche roamed over the country about the headwaters of the Arkansas, Red, Trinity and Brazos Rivers in Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas. According to a Kiowa tradition, when that tribe moved southward from the country about the Black Hills, the Arkansas River formed the northern boundary of the Comanche country. The Handbook of the Bureau of American Ethnology said: "It must be remembered that from 500 to 800 miles was an ordinary range for a prairie tribe, and that the Comanche were equally at home on the Platte and in the Bolson de Mapimi of Chihuahua."

For nearly two centuries the Comanche were at war with the Spaniards of the southwest and made frequent raids as far south as Durango. They were generally friendly with the Americans, but did not like the Texans. The Comanche was probably never a large tribe, as they did not settle down in villages, but lived as nomadic buffalo hunters, following the herds as they grazed from place to place. They were fine horsemen, the best riders on the plains, full of courage, had a high sense of honor, and considered themselves superior to the tribes with which they associated. In 1867 they were given a reservation in southwestern Oklahoma, but they did not go to it until after the outbreak of the plains tribes in 1874-75.

The Cheyenne (people of strange language) belonged to the Algonquian group. They are first mentioned in history by the name of "Chaa," some of them visiting La Salle's Fort on the Illinois River to invite the French to their country where beaver and other fur-bearing animals were plentiful. At that time, they inhabited the region bounded by the Mississippi, Minnesota and upper Red Rivers. According to a Sioux tradition, the Cheyenne occupied the upper Mississippi country before the Sioux. When the latter appeared in that locality there was some friction between the two tribes, which resulted in the Cheyenne crossing the Missouri River and locating about the Black Hills, where they were found by Lewis and Clark in 1804.


From there they drifted westward and southward, first occupying the region about the headwaters of the Platte and next along the Arkansas River in the vicinity of Bent's Fort. A portion of the tribe remained on the Platte and the Yellowstone and became known as the northern Cheyenne.




Continued Next Page


A Comanche camp in 1873

A Comanche camp in 1873.

This image available for photographic prints and  downloads HERE!


Cheyenne Warriors

Cheyenne Warriors by Edward S. Curtis.

This image available for photographic prints HERE!



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