medicine lodge

(Frank) A friend of mine is Randy Sparks, who founded the New Christy
Minstrels. He is from Kansas and he’s done a whole lot of historical songs about Kansas. And he did one about Medicine Lodge. But you’ve also done something about Medicine Lodge. (Deb) Well, this is one of the anniversary years of the peace treaty. So, they are doing their pageant in September. Gosh, September is already, my calendar is getting so full. But this is an incredible happening that the town of Medicine Lodge puts on to celebrate the signing of the peace treaty, in 1867, which did not bring any peace to anybody. In fact, it heralded some of the most violent times on the Plains. But it’s a really significant event in American history and of course, in Kansas history. So, you have several of the tribes of people that come together in Medicine Lodge. Incredible staging of what it would have looked like you know, during that time period in the 19th century. And so, have you ever been out to Medicine Lodge? (Frank) I have. It’s a beautiful part of the state. (Deb) Isn’t it gorgeous? (Frank) It really is. (Deb) And of course, I don’t think the town actually existed when this was signed. I think they just went somewhere close to Great Bend where there were a couple of creeks that came together. It was just a nice, pretty spot for everybody to camp, basically, and that’s why they chose it to sign the peace treaty. But Randy’s song, of course. He’s just covered everything hasn’t he? (Frank) Yea, he has. (Deb) He does
amazing work. Let’s share with you the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty. This year we are marking 150 years since the end of the Civil War. The end of that war heralded an unprecedented migration. Thousands of pioneers, many of them former soldiers, sought a new beginning in the West. The only thing standing in their way were the people who already lived there. Yes, the end of the Civil War marked the beginning of the Plains Indian Wars in many respects. While there had been skirmishes and attacks, and even one major battle, the Civil War had consumed the nation’s attention. When it was over, promises of rich farmland, and just riches, lured even the most timid Easterners. The tribes of the Central Plains reacted predictably and defended their homelands. One of the first major campaigns against the Plains tribes was the Hancock Expedition. Commanded by Winfield Scott Hancock, nicknamed the Superb, the campaign was a failure in all but increasing friction. Though the tribes agreed to meet with him, they backed out, literally, abandoning their encampment. The Civil War’s “boy general,” George Custer was among was among the first soldiers to creep into the camp only to find it deserted. It was decided in Washington that a peace party would be sent to negotiate a treaty. In October 1867 the Peace Commission arrived in Kansas. Its personnel had been chosen from both military men and civilians. William T. Sherman had been assigned by the military to attend, but was called back to Washington by President Johnson. The treaty site was about 70 miles south of Fort Larned where Medicine Lodge and Elm Creeks joined. The tribes were encamped all around the area. Estimates of the number of Indians present vary from five thousand to fifteen thousand. The tribes represented were the Cheyenne, Arapahoe, Comanche, Kiowa, and Kiowa-Apache. Two treaties were drawn up and signed. They agreed to withdraw all opposition to the construction of the Pacific railroads; relinquish their claims lying between the
Platte and Arkansas; withdraw to reservations set apart for them. In return the Indians received the following concessions a large reservation and an enormous amount of supplies; the right to hunt south of the Arkansas river so long as the buffalo ranged there. The Medicine Lodge treaty did not bring peace to the frontier. Rather, more broken promises led to the most turbulent years on the Plains. Learn more about this pivotal moment in Kansas History by visiting Medicine Lodge for the Peace Treaty Pageant on September 25, 26 and 27.

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