Reading Cards
7. Native Americans in the Kansas Territory


  1. Coming to Kansas
  2. Shunganunga
  3. Lime for Kiln and Quarry
  4. Gardens and Orchards
  5. Letters from Home
  6. Traveling on the River
  7. Native Americans in the Kansas Territory
  8. John Brown and the Ritchies
  9. Becoming a State
  10. Building a Community


When white settlers like the Ritchie family reached the Kansas Territory, they found many Native Americans. The Kansa or Kaw, the Potawatomi, the Delawares, and the Wyandottes were among the tribes that were here. Much of the wooded land along the Kansas River belonged to the Native Americans.

White settlers bought wood for building and fuel from their Native American neighbors. Sometimes the settlers and the natives bartered, or traded, with one another. The Kansa were still hunting buffalo in the the 1850s. They traded buffalo hides and meat to other tribes like the Potawatomi for guns, gunpowder, pots, and medicine.

The Kansa also used parts of the buffalo to make bridles and reins for horses. They were very skilled craftsmen in leatherwork and sometimes groups of them would come into town from the reservation to sell their goods.

The Potawatomi traded the buffalo hides to white settlers. Buffalo hides were heavy and very warm. When worn as a robe, the hides kept a person dry in rain or snow.

The Potawatomi also traded berries, plentiful in the wooded bottomlands of the river. This tribe lived and dressed much like their white neighbors, with houses and small farms. They had come to rely on goods they received in trade like coffee, sugar, and sometimes, thimbles.

White women used thimbles to protect their fingers while sewing. The shiny metal objects looked bells and the Native Americans used them to decorate their clothes.

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