The following sections are from a longer feature "Being Native. Being Kansan." first published in 2016

Five native nations connected to Kansas

By Suzanne Heck


Sac & Fox Nation of Missouri 

The Sac and Fox (Mesquakie) people were originally two distinct groups who formed an alliance in the 1700s to fend off a French attack. Historically, they were located in the Great Lakes region but were eventually removed into Kansas in 1837. They now reside in Richardson County, Nebraska, and Brown County, Kansas, with their offices in Reserve.



Kaw Nation 

Originally the Kaw, or Kansa, Indians resided on vast reservation land near Council Grove, but they were forced to migrate to Oklahoma in 1872 by the federal government.  The Kaw people still celebrate their Kansas heritage with an annual powwow called Washunga Days each June and have a marked historical site where the last Kaw village was located 3.5 miles south of Council Grove. Their capital is in Kaw City, Oklahoma.



Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska  

The Iowa Tribe of Kansas are of Sioux stock. They were originally located in the Plains region where present-day Minnesota, Iowa and Missouri are located. In 1836 a treaty assigned them to a reservation in Brown County and Richardson County, Nebraska, but the official headquarters is in the Sunflower State, located in the small community of White Cloud, along the four-state border of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri and Iowa.



Kickapoo Nation of Kansas  

The Kickapoos originally inhabited lands in Ohio and Michigan but were forced to remove through several migrations west. The Kickapoo Nation of Kansas came to Brown County in the 1830s and continues to have its capital in Horton.



Prairie Band Potawatomi Nation 

Though the Potawatomi has its seat of government in Mayetta, on the Prairie Band Potawatomi reservation in Jackson County, this nation originally resided in the Great Lakes region. The Potawatomi were forced into Kansas in the 1840s, where they remain living on diminished reserves.





Tips for respectful native tourism


By Rhonda LeValdo

Being a guest at a Native-American event or celebration can be exciting and educational. But there is protocol to follow when attending Native events in the age of the ubiquitous selfie. Here are some guidelines to honor yourself and your hosts.


Sometimes, Never is Enough.

Keep in mind, some Native Americans simply don’t want to be photographed. The famous Lakota warrior Crazy Horse, for example, was said never to have been photographed. Not everyone will feel this way, but it’s always important to inquire before snapping away.


Sacred Times

Photographing might be particularly sensitive during sacred ceremonies, including some dances performed at public powwows. Usually, an announcement is made, asking people to refrain from photographing a particular dance or dancer—but you can always ask if you are in doubt.


Sacred Spaces

Native-American sites in Kansas are available to visit. From the Shawnee Indian Mission to El Cuartelejo or even a current school like Haskell Indian Nations University, there is much to see. Just use common sense when taking pictures. For example, at Haskell there is a cemetery for young students who died at the school, and while it is picturesque, it is also regarded as a somber memorial. The world has seen enough insensitive selfies at memorials such as Auschwitz or the World Trade Center site—there’s no reason to add more.


Touch Tourism

Eagle feathers, fans and other ceremonial objects can be sacred items. Please do not touch something used in a ceremony without asking permission. Never touch a dancer’s regalia without asking as well.


Tribal Lands

Remember, when you attend an event on tribal land, you are effectively on another nation’s territory. Though tribal laws do not apply to non-Native U.S. citizens, kind consideration and respect are always appreciated.



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