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February 16, 2002

Northern Cherokee typically are not associated with Kansas, but…

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In a just-released book on the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory, a chapter recounts this American Indian tribe’s history in Kansas. For some people, that account may come as a surprise, as the Northern Cherokee typically aren’t associated with the Sunflower State. Records and family histories speak otherwise.

The Northern Cherokee Nation has been in Kansas since at least the early 1800s, said Mike Ballard, of Topeka, one of the tribe’s elders.

The tribe was particularly active in the southeast section of the state, in such counties as Cherokee, Crawford and Bourbon.

Today, there are some 160 Northern Cherokee living in Kansas, out of 8,000 nationwide.

On Monday, Ballard and Doug Ashcraft, an assistant tribal representative, presented the book “We Are Not Yet Conquered,” by Beverly Baker Northup, to the Kansas History Center’s library, 6425 S.W. 6th.

Ballard said he hoped the book would prove useful to those doing historical research at the library.

“We’re trying to make our presence known,” said Ballard. “We want to let people know that we’re here.”

Margaret Knecht, head of the library section for the Kansas State Historical Society, said the book was a welcome addition.

Doug Ashcraft, assistant representative of the Awiakta district of the Northern Cherokee Nation of the Old Louisiana Territory, held a copy of the book “We Are Not Yet Conquered.”

“We’re always pleased to receive histories related to Kansas,” she said. “And we’re very dependent on donations.”

The Northern Cherokee Nation has state recognition in Missouri and Arkansas, but not in Kansas.

For her book, author Northup spent more than 15 years writing and researching the book, and much attention was given to the smallest details, including the stories of 100 families that are included.

Perhaps most importantly, the book chronicles the movements of the Cherokee Nation, which originated in the Southeast section of the United States.

By the early 1800s, many Cherokee Indians were forced to move to other areas of the country, and divisions occurred within their ranks, leading to different tribes forming. Many ended up in Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri.

During the Civil War, some Cherokee Indians fought for the South, while others sided with the North. Those who didn’t want to fight for the South were given a safe haven in the “neutral lands” of southeast Kansas.

“The book tells our tribal history,” Ashcraft said. “We’re very proud of it.”

Author: Philip Carlson/The Capital-Journal

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