Kaw Nation Today
"The Kaw Nation has really progressed in the last twenty years. There was a time when we didn't have nothin’ to look forward to. But. . . . God has brought us all back together once again and made a nation of us one more time."

–Johnnie Rae McCauley, Kanza Pureblood, 1934–1997

Speaking at the Kaw Mission in June, 1996

         Tribal Council
Back L-R:
Guyetta Monroe-Martin, Member
Marilyn Mehojah York, Member
Mary Pat Branch, Member
Gay Munsell, Secretary

Front L-R: 
Guy Munroe, Chairman
Luther M. Pepper, Member
Roy Lee Ball, Vice-Chairman

The Kaw Nation:
Johnnie Ray McCauley's 1996 statement remains true thirteen years later, as Kaw Nation continues to progress and expand.  As of January, 2009, tribal citizens totaled 2,861.  Kaws reside in 47 of the 50 states, with about 700 living in Kay County, Oklahoma and an additional 12% living in Kansas, although not in their former Council Grove homeland.

Kaw Nation is a sovereign, self-governing nation, ruled under its 1990 Constitution by a General Council of all adult tribal citizens and by legislation and resolutions adopted by its seven-member Tribal Council.

As social, economic, and educational programs for tribal citizens have grown, so have the staff and facilities providing these services.  The Kanza Health Center in Newkirk, Oklahoma has helped members of more than 80 Native American tribes and is doubling its size to provide additional services.  Also in Newkirk are an expanded Wellness Center and Gymnasium, Tribal Youth Program, and Daycare Center.

Administrative Headquarters in Kaw City, Oklahoma includes a complex of four buildings, plus a newly constructed Education and Social Services Building housing Enrollment, Language, Education, and Social Services/Child Support Programs.  Soon to be constructed is an adjacent building which will house tribal archives, library, and distance learning facilities.

Kaw Nation actively partners with the communities of which it is a part.  The new and soon-to-be-constructed buildings in Kaw City are on land donated by the City of Kaw City. In partnership with Kay County Commissioners, the tribe has completed bridge repairs and resurfaced 11 miles of a major road. Kaw Nation economic development plans include joint tribal-city water treatment projects and alternative energy programs involving communities and other tribes.  Kaw Nation is one of the largest employers in Kay County.   The Nation's economic impact in 2006 was $312,000,000 and is anticipated to be $442,000,000 in 2007.

"Kaw Nation seeks to increase services to tribal citizens through economic development in partnership with our area communities while preserving our culture, history, and language.  We appreciate the support  from our Council Grove and other Kansas neighbors in helping us to tell the Kanzas' story at Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park.  "  
----Guy Munroe, Chairman


Washunga Days:
Kaws have retained vital ties to their ancestral homelands in the Council Grove area. Each year Kaw people return here in June to host and cosponsor an Inter-Tribal Pow Wow held on the Kaw Mission grounds in conjunction with the Washunga Days celebration. 
The name of the celebration honors Washunga, the Chief of the Kaw Tribe after their move to Indian Territory (Oklahoma).

Historical Pageant:
The Kaw Nation cosponsors the Council Grove historical pageant, Voices of the Wind People
Held in 1992, '93, '96,'99, '01, '04, '06 , '08 and '10, Voices is a powerful dramatization of the early history of the Kaw people.

Historical Park to Honor Kanza's Heritage:

In March, 2000, the Kaw Nation purchased approximately 150 acres of land three and one half miles south of Council Grove, Kansas.  This was the site of the last Kanza (Kaw) village before their removal to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1873. 

The land was purchased from Steven Huston, Randall Huston, and Curtis Suplee, descendants of August Haucke, who owned the property for many years.  Together with additional acreage donated by the owners, the site is being developed as an historical park, telling the story of the Kanza  in their last Kansas homeland.

Kaw Nation combined tribal funds with master plan financing from the National Park Service and stabilization monies from the Kansas Historical Society to begin the heritage project.  Additional funding from the Kansas Department of Commerce, Travel and Tourism Division, helped finance the two-mile Kanza Heritage Trail, which provides visitors with a close look at the prairies, forest, streambanks, hilltops, and historic sites within the Park.

Pause Point

Significant features include:

  • The stabilized ruins of the Kaw Agency Building;

  • The 40-foot stone obelisk erected in 1925 to honor an unknown Kaw warrior whose remains were discovered on the site;

  • The ruins of three of the 138 stone huts erected by the U.S. government as housing for tribal members;

  • A model earth/bark lodge, currently under construction, which was the traditional and preferred dwelling of the Kanza  ( a joint project with the Atchison County Historical Society, using a Lewis and Clark Challenge/Cost Share Grant);

  • Viewing circles along the trail with tribal designs and audio posts telling Kanza history, culture, and lifestyle;

  • Fields of native grasses and wildflowers.

Take a virtual tour of the Kanza Heritage Trail


Agency Building

Earth/bark Lodge



Oak Seedlings to Commemorate Kaw Heritage:
Each spring since 2002 bur oak seedlings have been planted along the Kanza Rails Trail right-of-way from Council Grove to the Park site.  Over time 807 bur oaks will be established as living memorials to the 807 members of the Kaw Tribe who were listed in the 1862 census.
 more info
The Last Pure-blooded Kaw:

A sad event made the year 2000 even more momentous for the Kaws. On April 23, the last pure-blooded Kaw, William Mehojah, 82, died in Omaha, Nebraska. A native of Washunga, Oklahoma, Mr. Mehojah graduated from Haskell Indian College in Lawrence, Kansas, and was an employee of the Bureau of Indian Affairs for thirty years. He was elected to the Kaw Nation Tribal Council in 1986 and became Chairperson of the tribe a year later. In his three years of leadership, Mr. Mehojah led in drafting a new tribal constitution.

"The reality of being the last full blood to me is sad and lonely."
–William Mehojah, 1997

Related Link: Kaw Nation website.