Governor Laura Kelly this month proclaimed November as National American Indian Heritage Month and encouraged Kansans to strive to learn more about the rich and diverse indigenous cultures of the four tribes of Kansas.
“American Indian Heritage Month is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories, and to acknowledge the important contributions of American Indians and indigenous peoples,” Governor Laura Kelly said. “The Kansas tribes are valuable partners to the State, and to the communities and economies near their reservations.”
There are over 570 federally recognized tribes in the United States, and Kansas had once been home to many American Indian tribes. Some of the Tribes that are considered to be native to present-day Kansas include the Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa, Kiowa, Osage, Pawnee, and the Wichita. Kansas was also inhabited by many emigrant tribes. The emigrant Indians are those people who had been moved to a new geographic region after being displaced from their original homelands.
Nearly 30 tribes were given land in the Kansas Territory with the assurance of the federal government that they would not be moved again. However, the Kansas Territory was opened for settlement in 1854 and once again the tribes were forced to move off the land.
Kansas is home to four Indian tribes:
- The Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska located in White Cloud, KS
- The Kickapoo Tribe in Kansas located in Horton, KS
- The Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation located in Mayetta, KS
- The Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska located in Reserve, KS
Each tribe has a rich history and works to maintain their own language, ceremonies, and customs. And, while it is easy to view the tribes from a historic lens by visiting museums and reading history books, it is important to remember that the tribes are modern sovereign governments, as well as citizens of Kansas.
Visit the Kansas Native American Affairs website to learn more about their history, culture, and the contemporary operations of their governments. You can also learn more about the Kansas tribes by visiting one of the three tribal museums and the Kansas Museum of History.