- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 22, 2015

COUNCIL GROVE, Kan. (AP) - An American Indian tribe is returning to its land in northeast Kansas after nearly 142 years.

The Kaw Nation, also called the Kanza, will perform ritual dances Saturday south of Council Grove. It is a step toward establishing a gathering place to educate, promote and preserve the American Indian heritage for a tribe for which the state of Kansas is named.

The Wichita Eagle reports (https://bit.ly/1K4oq0U ) that the dances will be performed at the site of the last Kaw villages in Kansas before the Kaw Nation was forced to move to Indian Territory in Oklahoma in 1873.

“This is significant because that was the site of the last Kanza villages in Kansas before our removal into Indian Territory in 1873,” said Pauline Sharp of Wichita, vice president of the cultural committee for the Kaw Nation. “This was where our ancestors lived, and I think if you talk with any Kaw tribal member who has gone out to the park, it has a special feeling.

When the tribe was forced to move, it had fewer than 500 members. Today, the Kaw Nation has almost 3,500 members.

On Feb. 28, 2000, the Kaw Nation bought 146.8 acres of land along the Little John Creek near Council Grove. It has been working with the state to re-establish its ties to Kansas, through various measures including dedicating 168 acres as Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park.

The Kaw Nation was also given a $350,000 matching grant several years ago from the Kansas Department of Wildlife, Parks & Tourism for a dance arbor and other improvements to the Council Grove park.

“We have only been in Oklahoma for the past 142 years,” Sharp said. “We were in Kansas for 375 years. We were in Kansas a lot longer than we have been in Oklahoma.”

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Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, https://www.kansas.com

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