Whiskey, Disease, Death

Life for the Kaws was anything but easy. Whiskey merchants on the Santa Fe Trail exploited the Kaw annuity fund through sharp trading practices, while the bison supply on the plains diminished dramatically. While in Kansas the Kaws made little progress in agriculture. 

Most Kaw parents refused to allow their children to attend distant government boarding schools and the periodic irruption of smallpox and cholera epidemics continued to decimate the Kaw population.

After the great flood of 1844, the Kaw were poorly housed, sick, and starving. Increasing numbers of Kaws resorted to raiding the Santa Fe Trail caravans or stealing from the settlements near the mouth of the Kansas River, where, according to one observer, unscrupulous white men operated "whiskey shops in their [the Kaw's] place, using every stratagem in their power to get the Indians to drink."

Smallpox vaccine had been available for use among the Kaws for some time, but because of their nomadic habits and petulant quarreling between white traders and government health authorities, most members of the tribe were not vaccinated. In turn, chronic malnutrition made the Kaws especially susceptible to the ravages of other infectious diseases.

See newspaper clipping which shows decline of Kaw population.

Collision - Lethal Contact
Kaw trade with Euro-Americans
Kaw Reservations
Whiskey, Disease, Death
A Violent Encounter in Council Grove
Final Years in Kansas
The Kaw Exiled

Read about two views to a violent encounter in Council Grove.