The American Expansion
In 1803 land transaction known as the Louisiana Purchase, France sold to the United States a vast territory in central North America which included land that later became the state of Kansas. At this time this area was occupied by the Kaw, who were living in the Blue Earth Village near where Manhattan stands today. Since the early1700s the Kaws had associated with the French in the fur trade and had become dependent on European trade goods.

Explorers Zebulon Pike in 1806 and Stephen Long in 1819 came to the central plains and pronounced the land unfit for cultivation and permanent white habitation. It was assumed at that time that the plains were suitable only for Native Americans. 

In the 1830s and 1840s over twenty tribes from the east coast and Ohio Valley were relocated to reservations in what is now Kansas. Partially to make room for these immigrant Indians, the U.S. government constricted the domain of the Kaws in a series of legal actions beginning with the Treaty of 1825.

Americans traveling on the Oregon and California Trail and the Santa Fe Trail began to realize that, in fact, these prairies were quite fertile and desirable as places of settlement. The government followed suit by making plans to effect the settlement of Americans into Indian Country. Soon after Kansas becoming a territory in 1854, a series of treaties and legal machinations, some of questionable integrity, rapidly disenfranchised Indians from their Kansas lands. Most of these Indians were moved south to "Indian Territory," now Oklahoma.

The Kaws signed a treaty in 1846 which forced the tribe to give up land in northeastern Kansas. Indian agent Richard Cummings then selected a tract on the Neosho River as the new Kaw Reservation. It was twenty miles square and included the site of present Council Grove.

When Kansas became a territory, land-hungry Euro-Americans came by the thousands to establish their land claims. Unfortunately, the Council Grove Kaw Reservation was overrun by the whites. By 1859 nearly one thousand Americans had settled illegally on the Kaw Reservation. Many of these people said they had been misled by faulty maps and bad advice from Indian agents.

In 1859 the federal government forced the Kaws to sign another treaty which diminished their reservation to a tract nine by fourteen miles. Council Grove was situated just north of this new diminished Kaw reserve. However, the whites continued to pressure the Kaws and by the early 1870s hundreds of settlers had once again overrun the diminished Kaw Reservation.

In 1872 the Secretary of the Interior of the U.S. government, Colombus Delano, came to Council Grove to inform the Kaw that they would be removed from Kansas once-and-for-all. Kaw chief Al-le-ga-wa-ho made an impassioned plea to Delano with the following words: "Great Father, you whites treat us Kan-zey like a flock of turkeys, you chase us to one stream, then you chase us to another stream, soon you will chase us over the mountains and into the ocean." The chief’s appeal was ignored, and in June 1873 the six hundred remaining Kaws were removed south to a reservation in Indian Territory.

The Euro-Americans
European Traders
American Expansion
Santa Fe Trail
Historical Council Grove

Was the Santa Fe Trail used for westward travel or as a trade route?