Native Americans

Taylor Keen is a member of the Omaha Tribe and the Cherokee Nation. He's trying to revitalize the corn growing traditions of his ancestors.
Grant Gerlock / Harvest Public Media

Long before European settlers plowed the Plains, corn was an important part of the diet of Native American tribes like the Omaha, Ponca and Cherokee. Today, members of some tribes are hoping to revive their food and farming traditions by planting the kinds of indigenous crops their ancestors once grew.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Last week's election left one notorious glass ceiling intact. So what does that mean for local women, and women in government?

Plus, it's National Day of Action against the Dakota Access Pipeline. How might the proposed North Dakota pipeline impact our indigenous communities, and general populous, here in Kansas City?

Guests:

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

To cheers from an enthusiastic crowd, the full Kansas City council unanimously approved a resolution in opposition to the construction of the planned Dakota Access Pipeline.

Various groups in Kansas City have joined protests across the country in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has led a movement against the construction of the pipeline on native lands. 

As sous chef at Café Sebastienne, Janet Ross prepares ruby trout with a root vegetable hash. As a contestant on Cutthroat Kitchen: Tournament of Terror, she uses murder weapons to prepare Halloween-themed meals like liver and brains. How does she transition between the two? 

This week, Kansas Citians have an opportunity to see an extraordinary film that’s been publicly screened fewer than a dozen times since its original release in 1920. For decades, film historians figured it was lost.

The film's journey to Kansas City started back in 2004, when Brian Hearn was the film curator of the Oklahoma City Museum and received a strange call from a private investigator in North Carolina.

In conjunction with NPR's A Nation Engaged project, Native people answer the question, "What it means to you be an American now." Then, we find out why George Washington may not have agreed with the United State's role as policeman to the world. Finally, President of the Kansas Senate, Susan Wagle, gives us the inside story about what's going on with that state's tax revenues.

Lisa Rodriguez / KCUR 89.3

Hundreds of people, many of Native American heritage, gathered at Berkley Riverfront Park on Sunday to protest the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.  

They joined protesters across the country standing in solidarity with the Standing Rock Sioux tribe of North Dakota. The tribe filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for violating the National Historic Preservation Act, after the agency issued final permits for a massive crude oil pipeline stretching from North Dakota to Illinois.

The kidnapping of a red-headed, half-Irish, half-Mexican Arizona boy was the unlikely impetus for the longest war in American history, says historian Paul Andrew Hutton. The Apache Wars lasted from 1861 until 1890, and revealed the tensions that existed between tribal communities and American settlers.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

As far as university presidents go, Venida Chenault is anything but ordinary. When she says she understands the circumstances some underserved college students are faced with, she really means it.

As one of five siblings raised in Topeka by a single mother, her family sometimes relied on government assistance to make ends meet. Chenault is now the seventh president of Haskell Indian Nations University in Lawrence, but she used to pay the bills by cleaning hotel rooms and working as a secretary.

Native Americans from across the continent will congregate in Lawrence this weekend to sing, dance and honor First Nations culture. We learn about the functions and features of a powwow, and what to expect at this year's cultural and competitive event.

Guests:

Steve Johnson / Flickr

Water, in three parts: Kansas City's tap water, access issues on a Kansas Indian reservation, and a local guy whose bottled water collection has grown into The Museum of Bottled Water.

Guests:

  • Elle Moxley, reporter, KCUR
  • Gaylene Crouser, executive director, Kansas City Indian Center
  • Neal Wilson, founder and curator, The Museum of Bottled Water
Library of Congress

A photograph of murdered Chief Big Foot, his body twisted in the snow, is among the most famous images in the history of the American West. U.S. Cavalry troops killed the Lakota leader and more than 200 other American Indian men, women, and children at Wounded Knee on South Dakota's Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Dec. 29, 1890. Traveling reporters and photographers captured the scene and its aftermath, making it a national news event.

Paul Andrews / paulandrewsphotography.com

Lee Meisel starts his days by slinging whole pig carcasses over his shoulder and carrying them on his back into the kitchen of his own small restaurant in Lawerence, Kansas. 

He's a slender guy and the pigs weigh about 200 pounds each. "The pigs might have a few pounds on me," he admits.

Perhaps it's not clear, but this is the picture of a man living his dream.

When researchers stumbled upon a buttery substance under a lake, they thought maybe they'd also stumbled upon the answer to an age old mystery: why a pre-Columbian civilization near St. Louis abandoned the complex city they'd built. But with multiple research teams exploring the Cahokia Mounds site, not everyone agrees on what the new discovery means. 

Guests:

  • Sissel Schroeder, University of Wisconsin
  • Melissa Balthus Zych, University of Toledo

The Native American tribe that gave Kansas its name will dance in the state for the first time in 142 years.   

The Kaw or Kanza tribe once occupied most of what became Nebraska, and nearly half of modern day Kansas. Tribal spokesman Ken Bellmard says bad treaties and European diseases decimated the tribe.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Ernesto and Lupe Arvizu didn't know they were living next door to a sacred burial ground when they first moved to the Argentine neighborhood in Kansas City, Kan., 20 years ago.

White Feather Spring is a national historic site that memorializes the lesser known Shawnee Prophet, Tenskwatawa, who spent the last years of his life in KCK.

Kansas State Historical Society

In the early 1800s, before the Shawnee Indians were relocated to Kansas and then Oklahoma, there was a powerful Shawnee spiritual leader at the center of American Indian resistance against white settlers. The Shawnee Prophet — Tenskwatawa — condemned inter-tribal violence and preached for all the tribes to come together as tribal land was threatened by settler expansion and the United States government.

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

    

Missionary work, slaveholding in Kansas, a bogus legislature and a murder. These are some of the stories that surface when you investigate the namesake of Johnson County: Reverend Thomas Johnson, who founded the Shawnee Indian Mission (now a museum tucked away in a residential neighborhood). What happened at that site tells a larger story about the relationship between American Indians and the United States government.

Guests:

A pre-Columbian civilization once thrived here in the Midwest. The remains of that early society, known as Cahokia, are located in East St. Louis. The archaeological site near a meat-packing plant consists of plazas, mounds and the base of an earthen pyramid. Researchers at the University of Illinois and the University of Indiana have recently received grants to continue investigating the Cahokia Mounds. 

Guest:

  • Susan Alt, archaeologist, The University of Indiana in Bloomington

Native American women living on reservations suffer from some of the highest rates of violent crime, per capita, in the world. Yet tribal courts are often limited in their authority to address the issue. Sarah Deer, a KU Law alum with Muscogee roots, recently received a MacArthur grant for her efforts to bridge the gap between federal and tribal law, and to empower tribes to protect their women. 

Guest:

A two-acre cemetery in downtown Kansas City, Kan. is one of the few public reminders of the Wyandot Nation, whose trail of tears brought them to the area in the early 19th century. Yet the Wyandot had an influence on what was to become Wyandotte County, as well as Kansas' civil war history.

Guests:

Suzanne Hogan / KCUR

Right in the center of downtown Kansas City, Kan., between the public library and government buildings just off Minnesota Avenue, is a little two-acre cemetery.

The sign reads "Huron Indian Cemetery," but it’s also known as the Wyandot National Burying Ground. Over the years this place has been a gathering spot and a sacred place for members of the Wyandot Nation, but it has also been the site of controversy, confusion and a curse.

Courtesy: The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

"We're still here," says Gaylene Crouser of the Kansas City Indian Center. That's one of the many things she'd like people to understand about American Indians, a detail they might not pick up from mainstream movies. How have recurring characters on-screen shaped our perceptions of what it means to be indigenous in America? 

Guests:

Beth Lipoff / KCUR

The exhibition The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky, now at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Mo., marks an international collaboration, years in the making. Three museums on two different continents, featuring nearly 140 objects from North American and European collections. 

Julián Zugazagoitia, director and CEO of the Nelson-Atkins, says this builds on a museum tradition, started in the 1970s with Sacred Circles, of bringing Native American artwork to a larger audience.

Norman Akers

This fall, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art opens its blockbuster exhibition "The Plains Indians: Artists of Earth and Sky," with works ranging from a 2,000-year-old stone pipe to beaded designer shoes from 2011. To spark enthusiasm, three enormous teepees now compete with the Shuttlecocks on the Nelson’s south lawn.

Local American Indians On The Chiefs' Name

Jun 30, 2014
Flickr, .sanden.

The U.S. Patent Office revoked the Washington Redskins’ trademark, which has some Kansas City sports fans concerned about the fate of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Last year the National Congress of American Indians released a report that included the Chiefs in a list of sports teams they said profited from harmful stereotypes.

Richard Lanoue, President of the Indian Council of Many Nations which is based in Kansas City, doesn’t see it that way. Lanoue says the term “redskins” is racially disparaging but "chief" is different.

Jeremy Brooks / Flickr--CC

 As controversy surrounding the Washington Redskins’ name shines a light on Kansas City’s professional football team, many Kansas Citians are sticking by the Chiefs.

The Tomahawk Chop, a popular fan ritual at games, is another matter, however.

When the Redskins lost their trademark because of American Indian claims that the name disparages them, the debate tied to the appropriateness of the Chiefs came back to life.  

Anne Roberts / Flickr-CC

It’s no secret that people of different religions often clash over their differences. But when you look closer, the similarities jump out, especially when it comes to significant objects. 

On Wednesday's Up to Date, our Religion Roundtable takes a look at why objects such as stones, crosses, bread, drums and incense have places of prominence in spiritual observance and how their function differs in each religion.

Guests:

Snapshots of the Past / Flickr -- Creative Commons

Long before the foundation of Oklahoma Joe's was laid or even the first oxen left Kansas City on the Santa Fe Trail, thousands of distinct people called the confluence of the Kansas and Missouri rivers home. In fact, the history of human settlement goes back over 13,000 years to when mastodons roamed where cows now graze. The Kansas City area was home to Clovis peoples and later many more Native Americans, who either called the area home or were pushed here by white colonists.  Their legacy reverberates around the communities of Shawnee, Wyandotte and others.

Lawrence leaders aim to meet with counterparts in the Delaware Tribe of Oklahoma to learn plans for land that borders the city.

Mayor Mike Dever says a tribal intermediary never mentioned the word "casino" for the 90 acres recently purchased along I-70 and north of city limits, what Dever calls some of the most fertile farmland in the region.

Dever had informal talks with an unnamed third party interested in Native American affairs.

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