Emigrant Indian Tribes of kansas

May 1994


Michael J. Marchand

In the last issue of Tales Out of School we investigated the Indian tribes that came to Kansas either by their own will or because of pressure from other tribes--in other words, those Native Americans of Kansas not primarily compelled to locate in Kansas by the United States government. This issue, by contrast, takes up some of the Native American groups that were forced to settle in Kansas. It is a story of over twenty-five tribes or tribal remnants, more than 10,000 children, women and men, and their often tragic odyssey to Kansas. It is a story of removal to Kansas, so that eastern lands could be open to Euroamericans. It is, also, a story of removal from Kansas. The "permanent Indian preserves" in Kansas, negotiated between tribes and the government, ratified by Congress, lasted about a generation. When white settlement began its speedy growth with the founding of Kansas Territory in 1854, the Native Americans were pushed on again, most often to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

It seems almost unimaginable that so many truly different peoples--indeed different cultures--were compressed into one small area. Great Lakes tribes found themselves only walking distance from those of the Ohio and Mississippi Valleys. Siouan, Algonquian and Iroquoian speaking Indians were put on reservations only a few miles apart. Illinois confederacy remnant tribes were separated from their bitter enemies the Sauk and Fox and Kickapoo by little more than the Kansas River.

Indian Kansas as a solution did not last. By the end of the nineteenth century most Native Americans were gone from the state or incorporated into its general population as official citizens. Kansas, however, still shows vital reminders from the chorus of Native American voices that once filled the state. The Iowa, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Sauk and Fox, and Delaware-Muncie remain. Although, according to the 1990 United States Census of Population for Kansas, only 988 individuals from these tribes live in the state, the drum beat of their powwows goes on. It rings so that no one forgets what was and still is Indian Kansas.


Speaking the same language, the Otoes and Missouris have been officially recognized as one tribal group since settling in Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in the 1880s. They are both from the Siouan linguistic family. The word Otoe is a Siouan term meaning "lechers." Missouri is a popular name known to mean "great muddy," a reference to the river. Both groups were traditionally agriculturalists, but they also hunted the buffalo when that animal was still found east of the plains. In 1817 the Otoe and Missouri were located along the Platte River in current Nebraska. Tribal tradition, however, points to an origin in the Great Lakes region, where they were one people, that later divided because of a quarrel among chiefs.

The Missouri and Otoe were given a reservation in 1854 along the Big Blue River on the Kansas-Nebraska line. After this land was sold in 1881, the tribes were provided a reservation in Indian Territory.

  • Milner, Clyde A. With Good Intentions: Quaker Work Among the Pawnees, Otos, and Omahas in the 1870s. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1982.
  • Whitman, William. The Oto. New York: Columbia University Press, 1937.
  • Edmunds, R. David. The Otoe-Missouria People. Phoenix: Indian Tribal Series, 1976.
  • Barry, J.B. 'The Missouri Indians." Southwestern Social Sciences Quarterly, 17 (1936): 113-124.


The Iowa, whose name was once thought to mean "Sleepy Ones," but probably is a reference to "marrow," call themselvesPahodje, "Snow Covered." They are a part of the Siouan language group, long departed from the Winnebago. Their closest ties are to the Otoe and Missouri, with only a slightly different language dialect. Iowa tradition names an origin north of the Great Lakes. As Euroamerican settlers moved westward, the Iowa moved south. In 1824 they ceded their lands in Missouri to the United States. In 1836 they were assigned a reservation in Kansas which proved to be unsatisfactory and most Iowas removed, once again, to Oklahoma. The Iowas have been primarily agriculturalists throughout their history.

  • Chapman, Berlin B. "Establishment of the Iowa Reservation." Chronicles of Oklahoma, 21 (December 1943): 366-377.
  • Plank, P. "The Iowa, Sac and Fox Indian Mission." Transactions of the Kansas State Historical Society,10 (1908): 312-325.


The name Quapaw is from a tribal term meaning "Downstream People." They are a southwestern Siouan tribe, one of the two divisions of the Dhegiha group, the other being made up of the Omaha, Kansas, Ponca and Osage. Both divisions show a close linguistic and ethnic relationship. The Quapaw name refers to a split between divisions, when the Quapaw went down the Mississippi River, while the other four tribes went up the Missouri. The first recorded notice of the Quapaw is by DeSoto (1539-1543). At that time they lived in a walled village, possessed great stores of corn and practiced the art of pottery making. They were among the ancient mound builders of North America.

In about 1803 their land claims stretched over present Arkansas, Oklahoma and Louisiana. They ceded most of this land to the United States in 1818. Records of the Osage Manual Labor School in southeastern Kansas show that in 1853 twenty-seven Quapaw children attended the school. The Civil War greatly disrupted their settlement, forcing them to seek refuge with the Ottawas in Kansas. They returned to Indian Territory in 1865. In a move unique among all Indians, the Quapaw managed their own land allotment in 1893.

  • Baird, W. David. The Quapaws. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.
  • Baird, W. David. "The Reduction of a People: The Quapaw Removal, 1824-1834." Red River Valley Historical Review, 1 (1) 1974: 21-36.


Chippewa is the tribes popular name, adapted from Ojibwa. They form a part of the Algonquian linguistic family. The Chippewa were one of the largest tribes in North America prior to extensive white contact. Formerly their territory extended more than 1000 miles east to west, from the Great Lakes across Minnesota to North Dakota. The Chippewa have had a close relationship with the Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes; the three tribes probably formed one group in ancient times.

They resisted American settlement for many years, finally making peace in 1815. A small band of Swan Creek and Black River Chippewas sold their lands in southern Michigan in 1836 and joined the Munsee ("Christian Indians") in Franklin County, Kansas. Later, they settled with the Oklahoma Cherokees.

  • Keller, Robert H., Jr. "On Teaching Indian History: Legal Jurisdiction in Chippewa Treaties." Ethnohistory,19 (Summer 1972): 209-218.
  • Weslager, CA. "Enrollment List of Chippewa and Delaware-Munsies Living in Franklin County, Kansas, May 31, 1900." Kansas History Quarterly, 40 (2) 1974: 234-240.


The Sauk and Fox are closely related, yet independent tribes of the Algonquian language stock. They were long allied, coming even closer together in the early eighteenth century under pressure from the Chippewa and French. Although they kept their separate identities, they have been called the "Sauk and Fox" and treated as one tribe by United States officials. The name Sauk comes from their own name meaning "People of the Outlet," interpreted as "People of the Yellow Earth." This distinguishes them from the Fox, a name applied by the French, but whose own name is "Red Earth People."

They were first found by Euroamericans in the Mississippi Valley. The Sauk and Fox are an eastern Woodlands culture type, living in fixed villages, practicing agriculture and occasionally hunting buffalo. They confederated with the Iowa tribe and allied themselves with the Potawatomi and Kickapoo against the Illinois confederacy. In 1804 they ceded their lands along the Mississippi, losing territory in Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri. Famous leaders from these tribes are Black Hawk and Keokuk.

Under terms of treaties made between 1842 and 1861 they ceded Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska lands to the United States, leaving only small reserves in Doniphan and Osage Counties, Kansas. Some tribe members remained in Iowa and still others removed to Indian Territory, arriving there by 1869.

  • Hagan, William T. The Sac and Fox Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1958, 1980.
  • Herring, Joseph B. "Indian Intransigence in Kansas: Government Bureaucracy vs. Mokohokos Sac and Foxes." WesternHistorical Quarterly, 17 (2) 1986: 185-200.
  • Jones, W. "Ethnography of the Fox Indians." Bureau ofAmerican Ethnology Bulletin 125. Washington, D.C.: GPO, 1939: 1-156.


The tribal name Kickapoo derives from a native word meaning roughly, "he moves about, standing now here, now there." The Kickapoo are from the central Algonquian language group, forming a division with the Sauk and Fox, with whom they are culturally very similar. Their earliest known homeland was in todays Wisconsin. By 1765 they had helped push the Illinois confederacy south and taken up land in the vacated area. Afterwards the Kickapoo divided into an eastern or Vermillion Band, and a western or Prairie Band, which made many contacts with Great Plains tribes.

In 1819 the Kickapoo ceded their claims to central Illinois and removed to Missouri. They removed again going to Kansas in 1832. Twenty years later a large body of the tribe moved to Texas and then Mexico, becoming identified as the Mexican Kickapoos. The tribe traditionally lived in fixed villages, raising corn, beans and squash. They are remarkable for having much association with Plains cultures yet retaining their own close cultural affinity with the Sauk and Fox.

  • Gibson, A.M. The Kickapoos: Lords of the Middle Border. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1963.
  • Herring, Joseph B. Kenekuk, the Kickapoo Prophet. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press, 1988.
  • Stull, Donald D., Jerry A. Schultz and Ken Cadue, Sr. "Rights Without Resources: The Rise and Fall of the Kansas Kickapoo." American Indian Culture and Research Journal, 10(2) 1986: 41-59.


The name Ottawa implies "to trade," or "to buy and sell" and was applied to them because of their extensive intertribal trade relations. The Ottawas are from the Algonquian language family and their early homeland was an enormous area across the Great Lakes region. They possess a long and rich history documented as early as 1615, a history which includes no less than twenty-three treaties with the United States. Pontiac, the famous chief, was an Ottawa. The tribe participated in the Indian Wars until 1812. By 1833 their lands along Lake Michigan were ceded to the United States, whereupon they agreed to move to a reservation in eastern Kansas, although many Ottawas remained scattered about the lower Michigan peninsula. Most of the tribe removed to Kansas, arriving here by late 1836 and settling along the Marais des Cygnes River in Franklin County, Kansas. In 1862 part of their land was divided among tribal members; the rest was sold. Notably, 20,000 acres were set aside at that time for Ottawa College.

  • Chamberlain, AF. "Naniboyhu amongst the Otchipwe, Mississagas, and Other Algonkian Tribes." Journal of American Folklore, 4(1891): 193-213.
  • King, Joseph B. "The Ottawa Indians in Kansas and Oklahoma." Collections of the Kansas State Historical Society, 13 (1913-1914): 373-378.


Wyandot is a form of a tribal term meaning "islanders," or "dwellers on a peninsula." Although a part of the Iroquoian language family, they are historic enemies of the Iroquois. When first encountered by the French, the Wyandot lived on land which became modern Ontario, Canada. The Wyandot were called Huron by the French, but the tribe never accepted this name. They were agriculturalists and developed an intricate system of government. The Wyandot were deeply involved in British, American and French wars until 1812.

Much of the tribe left the Ohio area in 1843, settling at the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers in present Wyandotte County, Kansas. There, they purchased a reserve from the Delawares. Through a 1865 treaty the Wyandot were granted individual land ownership, most of which was soon lost to white settlers. In 1867 they entered an agreement with their long-time friends the Senecas and settled adjacent to the Senecas in Oklahoma. This agreement was confirmed by the United States in 1867.

  • Norwood, Frederick A. "Strangers in a Strange Land: Removal of the Wyandot Indians." Methodist History Quarterly, 13(3) 1975: 45-60.
  • Smith, Robert B. "The Final Removal of the Wyandot Indians." Westport Historical Quarterly, 8(1) 1972: 3-18.


The primary form of the name Potawatomi translates as, "People of the Place of the Fire." They are an Algonquian tribe. The first mention of the Potawatomi places them on the islands of Green Bay, Wisconsin. Their own tradition states that the Chippewa, Ottawa and Potawatomi were originally one people. The Potawatomi took possession of parts of Illinois after the conquest of the Illinois confederacy about 1765. They fought the United States until ending hostilities by treaty in 1815. The Potawatomis scattered about the mid-west between 1836 and 1841, although many united on a Kansas reservation just west of Topeka in 1846. In 1868 they again scattered, some to Wisconsin, some to Michigan, others to Indian Territory, while yet another group remained in Kansas. By 1908 there were 676 Potawatomis counted as living in Kansas. They participated in at least thirty-six treaties with the United States as a tribe while various bands are named on fifty-three treaties.

  • Clifton, James A. The Prairie People: Continuity and Change in Potawatomi Indian Culture, 1665-1965.Lawrence: Regents Press of Kansas, 1977.
  • The Potawatomi. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.
  • Edmunds, R. David. The Potawatomis: Keepers of the Fire. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1978.


The name Miami is perhaps from a Chippewa word signifying "people who live on the peninsula." The Miami name for themselves means "the cry of the crane." The earliest recorded notice of them was made in 1658 when they were living about Green Bay, Wisconsin. However, early chroniclers also have them located in south Michigan, northeast Illinois, in Indiana to the Wabash River and even northwest Ohio. The Miami were prominent in the Ohio Valley Indian wars until 1812, but by 1827 had disposed of most of their Indiana lands and removed to a Kansas reservation of some 500,000 acres in present-day Miami County. In 1867 those Miamis who chose to remain in Kansas became citizens while the rest were moved to Indian Territory where they were confederated with the Peoria, Kaskaskia, Wea and Piankashaw. Congress declared them the "United Peorias and Miamis" in 1873.

  • Anson, Bert. The Miami Indians. Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1970.
  • Smith, G.H. "Three Miami Tales." Journal of American Folklore, 52(1939): 194-208.


Shawnee history constitutes one of the finest examples of the complexity in North American Indian history. They played important roles in such widely separated areas as South Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Ohio, Missouri, Oklahoma and Kansas. The name Shawnee refers to "southern." They call themselves Shawano. The Shawnee are part of the central Algonquian language group and are perhaps the most prominent tribe of that stock. Noted Shawnee leaders include Tenskwatawa (The Prophet) and Tecumseh.

In 1793 a large Shawnee band settled at Cape Girardeau, Missouri. After 1825 many had made homes in present-day Wyandotte and Johnson counties, Kansas. A large portion of this Shawnee group left Kansas in 1846 to join fellow tribe members in Indian Territory, formally ceding their Kansas lands to the United States in 1854.

  • CaIdwell, Martha B. Annals of the Shawnee Methodist Mission and Indian Manual Training School.Topeka: Kansas State Historical Society, 1939.
  • Harrington, Grant W. The Shawnees in Kansas. Kansas City, KS: Western Pioneer Press, 1937.
  • Smith, Robert E. "Indian Agent William Gay: A Victim of Bleeding Kansas." Westport Historical Quarterly,10 (DEC. 1974): 74-85.


Tsálagi , perhaps meaning "Cave People," is the name the Cherokees use to identify themselves. In the eighteenth century this once powerful tribe numbered between 12,000-20,000 individuals, but during the nineteenth century their population decreased drastically. The Cherokees, however, have proven to be a resilient people; their population by the beginning of the twentieth century, including those of mixed descent, was in excess of 25,000 people. At the time of first contacts with Euroamericans in 1540, the Cherokees held the whole southern Allegheny Mountain region. Large tracts of present-day Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee and Alabama were Cherokee homeland.

During the American Revolution the Cherokees sided against the rebels, but by 1820 they had adopted a government based on the United States model. The well-known Sequoya was Cherokee. He invented an altogether new alphabet for his tribe in about 1822, making the Cherokee a literate people. Another famous Cherokee, John Ross, fought tribal removal to the west. Despite the efforts of Ross, the Cherokee removed to land west of the Mississippi River by 1838-1839. Tahlequah, Oklahoma became the tribes capital and is still their principal town. They were assigned land in southeast Kansas which they never occupied.

  • Perdue, Theda. The Cherokee. New York: Chelsea House, 1989.
  • Mooney, James. Myths of the Cherokee. St. Clair Shores, MI: Scholarly Press, 1970.