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Collection: Indians of Kansas

The Ottawa Tribe of Kansas

The Ottawa were found on the Georgian Bay by Champlain in 1615. They seem to have been a people who traded much with other tribes. They had developed a commerce in tobacco, medicinal herbs and roots, rugs, mats, furs and skins, cornmeal, and an oil made of the seeds of the sunflower. They were in close alliance with the Hurons, or Wyandot, from the first. And the Wyandot raised tobacco for the Indian trade. The history of the Ottawa runs much like that of the other tribes found along the Great Lakes. They claim that they owned the country...

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Great Osage Village of Kansas – White Hair

The one village of the Great Osages on the Neosho mentioned by Colonel Sibley was that of White Hair. It was established about the year 1815, as noted before. In 1796 when the Arkansas band was induced to settle on the Lower Verdigris by Chouteau a trail from these Lower Towns to the old home on the Little Osages, in Vernon County, Missouri, where Pike had found the Osage Nation, was marked, and thenceforth used by traders and Indians alike. This trail followed up the Marmaton, in what is now Bourbon County, Kansas. It crossed over to the waters of the Neosho near the southeast corner of the present Allen County, bearing all the time to the southwest. The Neosho River was reached and crossed just above the present town of Shaw, in Neosho County, Kansas. In migrating to the Neosho River, White Hair and his band followed this old trail. The Great Osage town was fixed at the crossing of the Neosho, and on the west side of the river. When the Government survey of Kansas was made the site of White Hair’s village fell within the bounds of section sixteen (16), township twenty-eight (28) range nineteen (19). 1The site of White Hair’s village has long been a matter of both doubt and controversy. In later years it has been supposed to have been near Oswego, Labette County. The...

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Big Blue River Kansas Indians

The Kansas town erected at the mouth of the Big Blue was established after Bourgmont’s visit to the tribes at the mouth of Independence Creek. The exact date can not now be fixed. It was probably about 1780. Lewis and Clark found their abandoned villages on the Missouri and their towns were then on the Kansas. One town was twenty leagues up this river, and the other twice that distance. The entry runs to this effect: “This river (the Kansas) receives its name from a nation which dwells at this time on its banks, and has two villages one...

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The Osage of Kansas

This nation having been at profound peace with the Osages since the year 1806, have intermarried freely with them, so that in stature, features, and customs, they are more and more closely approaching that people. They are large, and symmetrically well formed, with the usual high cheek-bones, the nose more or less aquiline, color reddish coppery, the hair black and straight. The women are usually homely with broad faces. We saw but a single squaw in the village who had any pretensions to beauty. She was recently married to an enterprising warrior, who invited us to a feast, apparently in order to exhibit his prize to us. The ordinary dress of the men is breech-cloth of blue or red cloth, secured in its place by a girdle; a pair of leggings made of dressed deer-skin, concealing the leg, excepting a small portion of the upper part of the thigh; a pair of mockasins, made of dressed deer, elk, or bison skin, not ornamented, and a blanket to cover the upper part of the body, often thrown over one arm in hot weather, leaving that part naked; or it is even entirely thrown aside. The outer cartilage of the ear is cut through in three places, and upon the rims thus separated various ornaments are suspended, such as wampum, string-beads, silver or tin trinkets, etc. The hair of most of...

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The Pawnee of Kansas

On July 2, 1804, Lewis and Clark made the following entry: Opposite our camp is a valley, in which was situated an old village of the Kansas, between two high points of land, on the bank of the river. About a mile in the rear of the village was a small fort, built by the French on an elevation. There are now no traces of the village, but the situation of the fort may be recognized by some remains of chimneys, and the general outlines of the fortification, as well as by the fine spring which supplied it with water. The party who were stationed here were probably cut off by the Indians, as there are no accounts of them. In an article on the “Kansa or Kaw Indians,” Volume X, Kansas Historical Collections, George P. Morehouse quotes Bougainville on French Forts, who said in 1757: Kansas. —In ascending this stream [the Missouri River] we meet the village of the Kansas. We have there a garrison with a commandant, appointed, as in the case with Pimiteoui and Fort Chartres by New Orleans. This post produces one hundred bundles of furs. This old village found abandoned by Lewis and Clark had no doubt grown up around the French fort. And this French post was certainly the first settlement and trading-station ever set up in what is now Kansas by the...

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The Tribal Circle of the Kansas

The tribal circle of the Kansas is shown here. It is also known as the camping circle. The figures indicate where the gentes camp or live. The tribal circle is divided into two half-circles—or, in fact, the tribe is separated into two the tribe is separated into two divisions or half-tribes. On the right side of the line dividing the tribal circle live the Ictunga half-tribe, composed of clans or gentes, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8. On the left side of the tribal circle lives the Yata half-tribe, embracing clans or gentes, 9, 10, 11, 12,...

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Kansas Lodge

The Kansas had confused and indefinite conceptions of the future life. Mr. Say, of Long’s Expedition, secured from members of the tribe information on this point from which he wrote the following: The lodge in which we reside is larger than any other in the town, and being that of the grand chief, it serves as a council house for the nation. The roof is supported by two series of pillars, or rough vertical posts, forked at the top for the reception of the transverse connecting piece of each series; twelve of these pillars form the outer series, placed in a circle; and eight longer ones, the inner series, also describing a circle; the outer wall, or rude frame-work, placed at a proper distance from the exterior series of pillars, is five or six feet high. Poles, as thick as the leg at the base, rest with their butts upon the wall, extending on the cross-pieces, which are upheld by the pillars of the two series, and are of sufficient length to reach nearly to the summit. These poles are very numerous, and agreeably to the position which we have indicated, they are placed all around in a radiating manner, and support the roof like rafters. Across these are laid long and slender sticks or twigs, attached parallel to each other by means of bark cord; these are covered...

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The Sac and Fox of the Mississippi

The history of the Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi is the same as that of the Missouri portion of the tribes, except that they had never wandered so far from the ancestral home. They lived nearer the Mississippi River, and the other band lived on the Missouri River—or the Osage, a branch of the Missouri, and from these circumstances came the names of the two bands. One band was the Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi, and the other the Sacs and Foxes of the Missouri. The Sacs and Foxes of the Mississippi owned and held about three-fourths...

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