Kaw Mission State Historic Site Today
The Kaw Mission State Historic Site is one of seventeen historic properties administered by the Historic Sites Division of the Kansas Historical Society. The Society purchased the Kaw Mission in 1951 from Carl Huffaker for $23,500.

A native of Council Grove, Carl Huffaker moved to Oklahoma around 1900 and became a successful businessman and banker, prospering during the oil boom there. In 1926 Carl, his wife Bertha, and their three-year-old daughter, Marjorie, returned to Council Grove to take up residence in the old Kaw Mission. In that year the Huffakers spent $37,000 to remodel the interior. Today visitors to the Kaw Mission can view many of these 1926 alterations including the oak floors, luxurious rosewood woodwork, steam heat system, light fixtures, and porches.

The interior of the Kaw Mission contains exhibits telling the story of the Kaw Indians, Santa Fe Trail, and early Council Grove. An eight-minute introductory video, The Original Kansans, provides an overview of the history of the Kaw Mission and the Kanza Indians. Written by Kaw Mission curator Ron Parks, the video was produced in October 2000 by KTWU-TV in Topeka. 

Following the video, visitors are free to explore the two rooms downstairs and three rooms and large hallway upstairs. Exhibits include Kaw leather craft, beadwork, textiles, and a Kaw photo gallery. Additional artifacts include Santa Fe Trail-related items and early day furniture, weapons, tools, and domestic paraphernalia. 

A gift shop containing books, cards, and other history related items is available. Additionally, a brochure rack provides free information about other historic sites and museums in the region.

In addition to the Kaw Mission, a small, stone "Indian Hut" is situated on the historic site. This is one of 138 of these structures the federal government built on the diminished Kaw Reservation in 1861 as intended residences for the Kaws. The Indians, who had for generations been living comfortably in skin tepees and bark-and-mat lodges, wanted nothing to do with their new homes, choosing instead to stable their horses and dogs in them.

stonehut250.jpg (8589 bytes)
In 1961, the Council Grove Rotary Club dismantled one of these structures and reassembled it on the grounds of the Kaw Mission State Historic Site. Currently, the hut contains a small exhibit gallery featuring the natural environment of early-day Council Grove. Entitled "There Is a Wild Beauty about Council Grove," the exhibit focuses on the wildlife, river, springs, trees, and prairie in and around Council Grove as seen through the eyes of travelers on the Santa Fe Trail.

The Kaw Mission State Historic Site is the first designated stop on the twenty-one site historical tour route. It is also Council Grove’s official visitor information center. The site is situated on the northern end of the new one-half-mile-long "Riverwalk," a beautiful, winding walkway hugging the banks of the Neosho River. 

At the southern end of the "Riverwalk," located at the intersection of K-177 Highway and Main, is the lovely bronze statue of a Kaw Warrior. Named "The Guardian of the Grove," this eight-foot sculpture piece provides a powerful visual statement about the historical presence of the native peoples for whom the state of Kansas is named. (more info)

In 2001, the Kaw Mission State Historic Site and Council Grove residents celebrated a special event–the 150th birthday of the Kaw Mission. This sesquicentennial was observed by programs focusing on the history of the Kaw Mission and its associated themes and personalities. A series of articles summarizing the events of 150 years ago was published in the Republican.



A powerful outdoor dramatization of the story of the Kaws and Council Grove called "Voices of the Wind People" was shown again in September of 2010.  This highly-acclaimed historical pageant is cosponsored by the Council Grove pageant committee and the Kaw Nation.

Other program events include the annual community celebration Washunga Days, held the third weekend of June, during which the Kaw Nation cosponsors an Inter-tribal Powwow on the grounds of the Kaw Mission. 

FKH Raises Funds for Preservation and Development Project

In partnership with the Kansas Historical Society, The Friends of Kaw Heritage, Inc., a 501(c)3 organization, has reached our goal to acquire donations to provide the 20% match, totaling $44,160.00, required by the Department of Transportation for the $220,800.00 Kaw Mission preservation and development project.  The money was used to convert the existing garage into an Education Center, provide ADA-approved pathways to the buildings, and repair the exterior of the Mission .

The Kansas Historical Society committed $22, 080.00 or 50% of the match requirement.

FKH raised $22,080.00 from our membership and local supporters.

Construction began in late March of 2005 and was completed by early July, 2006.  Many thanks to our faithful volunteers, members of the Friends of Kaw Heritage, and the Kansas Historical Society for working together to make our dream of the Kaw Mission Education Center a reality!

Average annual visitation at the Kaw Mission is approximately 10,000. Of the seventeen historic sites administered by the KSHS’s Historic Sites Division, the Kaw Mission has recently ranked second in the number of registered visitors per year. 

American Indian Homes in Kansas Educational Tour

 The Kaw Mission is now giving first grade students and teachers alike the opportunity to combine an enriching educational experience with fulfillment of Kansas standards in a unique field trip.  This standards based educational tour, American Indian Homes in Kansas, teaches students about how American Indians – Kansa, Pawnee, Wichita and Cheyenne - built homes of natural resources found in the Kansas locations where they lived.  The tour fulfills specific Kansas standards. Teachers are provided pre- and post-visit materials to help meet these standards. 
Read more.

$3.00 for adults and seniors, and $1.00 for students. 
KSHS, Inc. members, FKH members, and children under five years and under are admitted free. 
AAA members receive 20 percent discount on admission.

Open hours:
10:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday - Saturday

After September 5th, the Kaw Mission will
be open only on Friday and Saturday.

October 31st will be the last day open for

The Kaw Mission will reopen on April 1, 2017.
10:00 a.m. - 5 p.m. Wednesday - Saturday

To schedule a tour:  Call site administrator
Mark Brooks at 620-767-5410

Write to: 
Kaw Mission State Historic Site
500 North Mission
Council Grove, KS 66846
E-mail: kawmission@kshs.org
Phone or FAX:  (620) 767-5410