Native American Day in Kansas

This month, on September 26th, we celebrate Native American Day in a state named for the Kansa Native American tribe.  They inhabited the northwest corner of the present state of Kansas and were also called the south wind people.

Ten tribes were known to originally occupy this region:

Arapaho               Comanche

Kansa                    Kiowa

Missouri               Osage

Otoe                      Pawnee

Cheyenne             Wichita

When Kansas later became considered Native American territory in the 1820s and closed to settlement, other eastern tribes were forcibly moved to this region:

Cherokee            Illini        Potawatomi       Shawnee

Chippewa            Iowa      Sac and Fox      Wyandotte

Delaware             Kickapoo              Seneca

In June 1825, the Kansa Native Americans handed over 20 million acres of their territory.  The Osage Nation soon followed suit.  Many Kansa Native Americans were later forced to move to reservations in Oklahoma in the late 1800s.

In 1854, Kansas and Nebraska were opened to settlement.

Today, there are 4 current tribal reservations in Kansas:

The Kickapoo tribe near Horton, Kansas

The Ioway tribe of White Cloud, Kansas

The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation near Mayetta, Kansas

Sac and Fox Nation in Brown County, Kansas

(This information was provided by

The 2 most famous pre-Civil War Kansas battles with Native Americans occurred at Solomon Fork in 1857 and at Crooked Creek in 1859.  During the Civil War, some Kansas Native Americans joined sides with the Confederacy and raided free state settlements.   Another raid that occurred near Beaver Creek in Sherman County, Kansas became known as the Kidder Massacre.  This later led to the Battle of Beaver Creek in 1867.

Kansas is known to be home to a great Native American Cheyenne leader called Black Kettle who advocated for peace with the settlers but later resisted encroachment.  In November, 1868, despite posting a white flag of surrender and peace, Black Kettle’s village was destroyed by U.S. soldiers led by General George Armstrong Custer.  Black Kettle and his wife along with over 150 other village members were killed.  Later, in June of 1876, General Custer would meet his own demise against the Northern Cheyenne and the Lakota Sioux in the last stand in the Dakotas territory known as the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Today, if you want to see some interesting Native American history,visit Lawrence to see Haskell University Cultural Center and also the KU Natural History Museum.  Topeka also has great Native American exhibits at the Kansas History Museum.