Indian Kansas

Valentine Worley Van Huss, the grandfather of my father-in-law, Robert (Bob) Van Huss came to Kansas with his three sons in the early 1870's. Father and three sons left eastern Tennessee after the Civil War for the 160 acres of land promised them by the Homestead Act. They settled in Butler County, near Beaumont, on lands that formerly belonged to the Osage Indians.

Before 1854, the territories of Kansas, Nebraska, and Oklahoma, were home to several Indian tribes including the Kansa, for whom the state is named, as well as the Kiowa, Osage, Otoe/Missouri, Arapaho, Cheyenne, Pawnee, and Comanche. The Wichita tribe, for whom the city of Wichita is named, made their home along the Arkansas River and in Oklahoma.

1836 map of Indian reserves, image from Wikipedia

Kansas Indian Tribes

Many of these Plains Indians were nomadic, their survival depending on the buffalo. The buffalo originally numbered in the tens of millions. In the area near present day Wichita and north, Osage Indian warriors hunted twice a year, coming from their homes in Arkansas and Oklahoma. A History of the Osage People, by Louis F. Burns.


Before horses and rifles were available, hunting was by ruse. Indian hunters would surround the bison, and then herd them off cliffs or into cul-de-sacs. Hunters using the Piskin method would build a corral from timber and herd the buffalo into it. The corral was large enough to hold a 100 buffalo. A pit was dug two feet in depth and spikes were fashioned at chest height to keep the buffalo from stampeding out of the corral. In order to guide the buffalo into the corral, the Indians would construct a v-shaped funnel about a mile long, made of fallen trees and rocks. Sometimes a hunter would cover himself with a buffalo skin and imitate the call of the animals to lure the buffalo. Visions of the Buffalo, by Linda Little Wolf, Kimberly Graham.

Indian Removal

The United State relocated many Indian tribes to Kansas territory or established reserves for their removal. These include the Shawnee and Delaware in northeastern Kansas and the Osage and Seneca tribes in the southern and eastern portion of the state. Other tribes.

"A map of Eastern Kansas by E.B. Whitman and A.D. Searl, General Land Agents, Lawrence, Kansas. The map illustrates a portion of Eastern Kansas which depicts trading posts, post offices, missions, government forts, Indian villages, roads, trails and Indian boundaries. The Indian boundaries that are featured included: the Kickappo, Pottawatomie, Kansa, Sax and Fox, Shawnee, Miami, Ottawa, Chippewa, Peoria, Kaskaskia, Iowa, Delaware, Wyandotte, Piankashaw, and the Wea. ... The land discussed above was originally given to Native Americans following the passage of the Indian Removal Act in 1830."
From Kansas Historical Society.

This article is too brief to go into a complete history of the Indian tribes. For more, read Francis Parkman, Oregon Trail and James R. Mead, Hunting and Fishing on the Great Plains.

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