History, Tales, and Destinations in the Land of Ahs


Native American History in Kansas - Page 5

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Black Hawk, Sac War Chief The Fox chief refused to ratify the cession and with some of his trusty followers, set out for Iowa from which some of the Fox members had previously returned. They purchased a small tract of land near Tama City, Iowa and later made more purchases, until the tribe owned some 3,000 acres. From that time, this faction of the Fox had no further political connection with the Sac. In 1867, the Kansas reservation passed into the hands of the United States Government, the Indians accepting a reservation in the Indian Territory, and in 1889 they were allotted lands in severalty.


The Iowa (sleepy ones) were a southwestern Siouan tribe belonging to the Chiwere group, composed of the Iowa, Otoe and Missouri tribes, all of which sprang from Winnebago stock, to which they were closely allied by language and tradition. Old Iowa chiefs said that the tribe separated from the Winnebago on the shores of Lake Michigan, and at the time of the separation, received the name of "gray snow."


Afterwards they lived on the Des Moines River, near the pipestone quarry in Minnesota, at the mouth of the Platte River, and on the headwaters of the Little Platte River in Missouri. In 1824, they ceded their lands in Missouri and in 1836 moved to a reservation in the northeast corner of Kansas. When this reservation was ceded to the United States the tribe removed to central Oklahoma, where in 1890 they were allotted lands in severalty.


The Kickapoo, a tribe of the central Algonquian group, is first mentioned in history about 1670, when Father Allouez found them living near the portage between the Fox and Wisconsin Rivers. Ethnologically, the Kickapoo were closely related to the Sac and Fox, with whom they entered into a scheme for the destruction of Detroit in 1712. When the Illinois Confederacy was broken up in 1765, the Kickapoo had their headquarters for a time at Peoria, Illinois. They were allied with Shawnee Chief Tecumseh in his conspiracy early in the 19th century, and in 1832, took part in the Black Hawk War.


Five years later they aided the government in the war with the Seminole. After ceding their lands in central Illinois, they moved to Missouri and still later to Kansas, settling on a reservation near Fort Leavenworth. About 1852 a number of Kickapoo joined a party of Potawatomi and went to Texas. Later they went to Mexico and became known as the "Mexican Kickapoo." In 1905, the Bureau of Ethnology reported 434 Kickapoo -- 247 in Oklahoma and 167 in Kansas.


Among the Kickapoo the gentile system prevailed and marriage was outside of their bands. In summer they lived in houses of bark, and in winter, in oval lodges constructed of reeds. They practiced agriculture in a primitive way. Their mythology was characterized by many fables of animals, the dog being especially venerated and regarded as an object of offering always acceptable to the great Manitou.


Potawatomie Rain DanceThe Potawatomi belonged to the Algonquian group and were first encountered by white men in the vicinity of Green Bay, Wisconsin. They were originally associated with the Ottawa and Chippewa as one tribe, the separation taking place about the head of Lake Huron. Subsequently, the three tribes formed a confederacy for offense or defense, and when removed west of the Mississippi River asked to be united again. They sided with the French until about 1760, took part in the Pontiac Conspiracy, and fought against the United States in the American Revolution. The Treaty of Greeneville put an end to hostilities, but in the War of 1812, they again allied themselves with the British.


Between the years 1836 and 1841 they were moved west of the Mississippi River, those in Indiana having to be removed by force. Some escaped to Canada and lived on Walpole Island in the St. Clair River.


In 1846 all those in the United States were united on a reservation in Miami County, Kansas. In November, 1861, this tract was ceded to the United States and the tribe accepted a reservation of 30 miles square near Horton, Jackson County, Kansas, where their reservation continues to stand today. From government reports in 1908, there were then about 2,500 Potawatomi in the United States, 676 of whom were in Kansas.




The 15 bands of the tribe were the wolf, bear, beaver, elk, loon, eagle, sturgeon, carp, bald eagle, thunder, rabbit, crow, fox, turkey and black hawk. Their most popular totems were the frog, tortoise, crab and crane. In early days they were sun-worshipers. Dog flesh was highly prized, especially in the "feast of dreams," when their special Manitou was selected.


The Kiowa (principal people) once inhabited the region on the upper Missouri and the Yellowstone Rivers. Next, they formed an alliance with the Crow, but were driven southward by the Cheyenne and Arapaho to the country about the upper Arkansas and Canadian Rivers in Colorado and Oklahoma. They are first mentioned in history by Spanish explorers about 1732, and in 1805 Lewis and Clark found them living on the North Platte River. About 1840 they formed an alliance with the Comanche with whom they were afterward frequently associated in raids on the frontier settlements of Texas and Mexico. In 1865 they joined with the Comanche in a treaty which ceded to the United States a large tract of land in Colorado, Texas and southwest Kansas, and three years later they were put on a reservation in northwest Texas and the western part of the Indian Territory.


The Quapaw, southwestern tribe of the Siouan group, were separated from the other Siouan tribes when the Quapaw went down the Mississippi River settling in Arkansas, while the Omaha group, which included the Omaha, Kanza, Ponca and Osage, went up the Missouri. There is a close linguistic and ethnic relation between the Quapaw and the other four tribes and their name derives from Ugakhpa, or "downstream people. When encountered by the French they were described as having made considerable advances in culture, evidenced by their villages and structures.


The Quapaw were close allies of the French in colonial Louisiana and during the later Spanish regime, they helped defend the colony from invasion by Indians allied with the English. The Quapaw tried to maintain a policy of peaceful co-existence with the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, but they were forced to surrender their Arkansas lands to the U.S. government in 1818 and 1824. In 1833 old maps show that some of them were living on a small strip in southeastern Kansas, extending from the Missouri line to the Neosho River.  In 1839, the Quapaw Reservation was established in Indian Indian Territory, which continues to be utilized today. There are about 2,000 tribal members most who live near  Miami, Oklahoma.


The Otoe, one of the three Siouan tribes forming the Chiwere group, were originally part of the Winnebago, from whom they separated near Green Bay, Wisconsin. Moving southwest in quest of buffalo, the Otoe went up the Missouri River, crossed the Big Platte River, and in 1673 were living on the upper Des Moines or upper Iowa River.


Quapaw IndianLewis and Clark, in 1804 found them on the south side of the Platte River, 30 miles from its mouth, where, having become decimated by war and small-pox, they lived under the protection of the Pawnee. The Otoe were never an important tribe in Kansas history, though in March, 1881, they ceded to the United States a tract of land, a small portion of which lies north of Marysville in Marshall County.


In January, 1838 several New York tribes were granted reservations in Kansas, but the vast majority  refused to occupy the lands -- only 32 Indians came from New York to the newly established Indian Territory. Some 10,000 acres were allotted to these 32 Indians in the northern part of Bourbon County. In 1857 the Tonawanda band of Seneca relinquished their claim to the Kansas reservations, and in 1873 the government ordered all the lands sold to the whites, including the 10,000 acres in Bourbon County, because the Indians had failed to occupy them permanently.


By the treaty of New Echota, Georgia on December 29, 1835, the Cherokee Nation ceded the lands formerly occupied by the tribe east of the Mississippi River and received a reservation in southeastern Kansas. The tribe never assumed an important status in Kansas affairs, and in 1866 the land was ceded back to the United States. The Cherokee tribe was detached from the Iroquois at an early day and for at least three centuries inhabited Tennessee, Georgia, southwestern Virginia, the Carolinas and northeastern Alabama. They were found by De Soto in the southern Alleghany region in 1540, and were among the most intelligent of Indian tribes.


Last, but not least of the Indian tribes that dwelt in Kansas at some point, were the Wyandot, or Wyandot-Iroquois, who were the successors to the power of the ancient Hurons, who originally lived on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. About the middle of the 18th century the Huron Chief Orontony moved from the Detroit River to the lowlands about Sandusky Bay. Orontony hated the French and organized a movement for the destruction of their posts and settlements, but a Huron woman divulged the plan. The hand-book of the Bureau of Ethnology said: "After this trouble the Huron seem to have returned to Detroit and Sandusky, where they became known as Wyandot and gradually acquired a paramount influence in the Ohio valley and the lake region."


During the French and Indian War, the tribe was allied with the French, and in the Revolutionary War they fought with the British against the colonies. For a long time the tribe stood at the head of a great Indian confederacy and was recognized as such by the United States government in making treaties in the old Northwest Territory. At one time they claimed the greater part of Ohio, and the Shawnee and Delaware tribes settled there with Wyandot consent. In March, 1842, they relinquished their title to lands in Ohio and Michigan and agreed to move west of the Mississippi River. On December 14, 1843, they purchased 39 square miles of the east end of the Delawaree Reserve in Kansas. Connelley says: "They brought with them from Ohio a well organized Methodist church, a Free Masons' lodge, a civil government, a code of written laws which provided for an elective council of chiefs, the punishment of crime and the maintenance of social and public order."


Soon after the Wyandot came to Kansas efforts were made in Congress to organize the Territory of Nebraska, to include a large part of the Indian country. The Indians realized that if the territory was organized it meant they would have to sell their lands, notwithstanding the treaty promises of the government that they should never be disturbed in their possessions, and that their lands should never be incorporated in any state or territory. A congress of the Kansas tribes met at Fort Leavenworth in October, 1848, and reorganized the old confederacy with the Wyandot at the head. At the session of Congress in the winter of 1851-52 a petition asking for the organization of a territorial government was presented, but no action was taken. The people then concluded to act for themselves, and on October  12, 1852, Abelard Guthrie was elected a delegate to Congress, although no territorial government existed west of the Missouri. At a convention on July 26, 1853, which had been called in the interest of the central route of the proposed Pacific Railroad, a series of resolutions were adopted which became the basis of a provisional territorial government, with William Walker, a Wyandot Indian, as governor.


On January 31, 1855, tribal relations among the Wyandot were dissolved and they became citizens of the United States. At the same time, the 39 sections purchased in 1843 were ceded to the government, with the understanding that a new survey was to be made and the lands conveyed to the Wyandot as individuals, the reserves to be permitted to locate on any government land west of Missouri and Iowa.


In the social organization of the Wyandot four groups were recognized -- the family, the gens, the phratry and the tribe. A family consisted of all who occupied one lodge, at the head of which was a woman. The gens included all the blood relations in a given female line. At the time the tribe removed to Kansas it was made up of eleven bands, which were further divided into four groups.


Mooney says the Wyandot were "the most influential tribe of the Ohio region, the keepers of the great wampum belt of union and the lighters of the council fire of the allied tribes." But, like the other great tribes that once inhabited the central region of North America, the Wyandot have faded away before the civilization of the pale-face. The wigwam has given way to the school house, the old trail has been supplanted by the railroad, and in a few generations more the Indian will be little more than a memory.




Compiled by Kathy Weiser/Legends of Kansas, updated March, 2017.


About the Article: The majority of this historic text was published in Kansas: A Cyclopedia of State History, Volume I; edited by Frank W. Blackmar,  A.M. Ph. D.; Standard Publishing Company, Chicago, IL 1912. However, the text that appears on these page is not verbatim, as additions, updates, and editing have occurred.


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