April 8, 2008

Were the Arickaree tribe from the Kansas City, Kansas area?



Were the Arickaree Indians ever in Kansas City, Kansas in Wyandotte County? We live in a housing addition called Arickaree Addition on the papers from when we purchased the house. A woman said the Arickarees were never in Kansas.

   ~Submitted by Frances W.

Hello Frances,
The land your housing project is on was purchased from Wyandot landholders, not Arickaree.

A white man named Hanford Newell Kerr was born September 9, 1820, in Miami County, Ohio. He was often referred to in historical records as H.N. Kerr. About 1854 he contracted measles and did not recover fully after his illness. He was advised to move west to improve his health. First the family moved to Bloomington, Illinois in 1855, then later moved to Wyandotte County, Kansas in 1859.

By terms of the Treaty of 1855, the Wyandots yielded tribal status and the lands of the Wyandott Purchase were allotted to the individual members of the tribe. In the Wyandot allotments, most of the Westheight area of what is now Kansas City was owned by three Wyandot individuals: John Sarahess east of 22nd, Jacob Whitecrow west of 22nd, and John Bearskin north of Oakland and Freeman.

Patents to the titles for the various Wyandot allotments were not issued until between January 19, 1860 and December 4, 1861, well after property sales to new settlers had begun. As the Westheight area was still at some distance from the center of settlement, it remained in the hands of its Wyandot owners until Hanford N. Kerr began assembling property for a farm toward the end of the Civil War.

On April 4, 1864, H.N. Kerr purchased 105½ acres in Wyandotte County from Jacob Whitecrow, a Wyandot, for just 33 and 1/3 dollars in gold. With this beginning, he bought, sold, and traded land until by 1887 the Kerr estate consisted of 380½ acres.

By the 1880s, the six Kerr children were grown and also established themselves in Wyandotte County. The youngest son, Hanford Lester Kerr, who was referred to as H.L. Kerr, became a prominent figure in the history of Kansas City, along with his father. His sister, Sarah Ann, married T. W. Combs, a fruit farmer whose land adjoined the Kerr farm on the south, which he had purchased from John Bearskin. Kerr also purchased the Sarahess property in 1887.

In 1877, the present city of Kansas City, Kansas was formed. On April 4, 1910, the Combs’ farm south of Kerr’s Park was platted by Sarah Ann Combs and her husband, T. W. Combs. This new subdivision was named Arickaree.

The Arickaree Tribe

The Arickaree, Ricaree, or Ree, as their name is recorded in various historical documents, call themselves Sanish, which translates to “the people from whom all others sprang.” They were once part of the greater Pawnee tribe, then split off into a separate tribe, migrated up the Missouri River, and later intermingled with the Hidatsa and Mandan tribes after their third smallpox epidemic killed nearly half of their tribe.

The name Arickaree comes from a Pawnee word which refers to the way the Sanish people wore their hair. This was later recorded in various historical records as “Arikara, Arickara, Ricarees, and Rees.”

The Arapaho, Cheyenne, Comanche, Kansa (now called Kaw), Osage, Jicarilla Apache, Kiowa, Kiowa-Apache, and Pawnee all had ancestral lands in Kansas, or roamed that area at least part of the year prior to the coming of the Europeans.

Today, the Arickaree are officially called Arikara and they share federal tribal status and a reservation called Fort Bertold with the Mandan and Hidatsa tribes in North Dakota. The members of these three tribes have intermarried with each other so much that collectively they are referred to as the Three Affiliated Tribes, although they maintain separate ceremonial traditions and separate tribal identities among themselves.

The official name of these three tribes, collectively, is recognized by the US government as the Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation. They refer to themselves collectively as the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation, but individual Arikara people still call themselves Sanish people.

According to anthropologists, the Sahnish people lived in an area that extended from the Gulf of Mexico across Kansas, Nebraska, and South Dakota. In 1541, Coronado encountered the Arikara at the Big Blue River and Mill Creek Valley in present day Kansas.

The Sahnish belong to the Caddoan linguistic group, along with the Pawnee, Caddo, Wichita, Anadarko, Skidi, Tawakoni and Waco.

The Mandans

According to tribal oral history, the Mandan came from the east out of the earth and entered the Missouri at the White Earth River in South Dakota. The eastern origin corresponds with that of the rest of the Siouan stock to which the Mandans, both linguistically, and to a considerable extent, culturally belong.

The Mandan and Hidatsa tribes belong to the Siouan linguistic group, along with the Crow, Dakota, Lakota, Yanktonai, Assiniboine, Iowa, Oto-Missouri, Quapaw, Omaha, Ponca, Osage, and Kansa (Kaw).

The Ohio valley seems to have been a point of dispersal where the Plains members of the Siouan stock are supposed to have moved in four successive migrations. The earliest group to leave consisted apparently of the Mandan, Hidatsa, and Crow, and of these the Mandan were probably a number of years ahead of the other tribes.

The Mandans established fixed villages on the Heart River in present day South Dakota, and recall the coming of the Hidatsa many years later. They describe the Hidatsa as a wild wandering people whom they taught to build stationary villages and to raise corn, pumpkins and other vegetables, and who soon moved up to the Knife River.

The Mandans prospered around the Heart River until 1772. A sucession of smallpox epidemics reduced their numbers from an estimated 15,000 in 1738 to only 125 survivors after the epidemic of 1837. At this time, the Mandan survivors abandoned their villages because of the smallpox virus and their small remaining numbers, and joined the Arikara villages, with whom they intermarried.

In 1850 there were three hundred and eighty-five Mandan living, most of mixed blood, and only a few of the full-blooded Mandan were left.

The Hidatsa

According to Hidatsa oral history, the Hidatsa were originally three closely related village groups called the Hiratsa (also known as the Hidatsa Proper), the Awatixa, and the Awaxawi, who each spoke different dialects. Between 1600-1700, they all migrated westward, occupying sections of the Missouri and its tributaries.

The Awatixa band of Hidatsa became agricultural and settled at the mouth of Knife River. According to the traditions of both the Mandan and Hidatsa groups, the last migration was of a nomadic people who had lived northeastward of Devils Lake. This group separated after quarreling over the division of a buffalo.

Those who moved farther upstream along the Missouri and Yellowstone became known as the “Paunch” Indians, while those who remained near the other Hidatsa villages were known as Hidatsa.

At the close of the 18th century, Canadian fur traders from the north, and St. Louis traders from the south, visited the Hidatsa who were reported to have two thousand members living in three villages located near the mouth of the Knife River near the two remaining villages of the Mandan.

They remained there until 1845, when the Hidatsa and the Mandan moved up the Missouri and established Like-a-Fishhook Village.

The Arikara

The oral history of the Sahnish people is taken from sacred bundles and is verified by archeological findings.

The Sahnish history has its roots in eastern Nebraska where numerous village sites were found by archeologists. Oral history tells of a person called “Chief Above” who brought these villages together in a union for protection. Archeologists confirm there was a drawing together into large villages on the Elk Horn River in the vacinity of what is now called Omaha, Nebraska, at the end of the prehistoric and beginning of the proto-historic period.

Lewis and Clark encountered the Sahnish people at the mouth of the Grand River in 1804, and found them living in three villages that numbered about 3,000.

In 1806, Lieutenant Zebulon M. Pike led an expedition through Kansas and on Sept. 29 raised, for the first time in Kansas, the United States flag at the Pawnee village in what is now Republic county.

In 1812 the Chouteau brothers built a trading post on the north bank of the Kansas River. They were the first permanent white settlers. Missionaries who established a mission among the Delawares in 1831, and built a church in 1832, were the second whites to settle permanently. This first church was erected at the site of the present village of White Church, on United States highway 40, some 8 miles west of Kansas City.

The Sahnish left the banks of the Missouri River in 1833 after two successive crop failures and conflicts with the Mandan. They rejoined the Pawnees in Nebraska on the Loop River, where they stayed for three winters. Because this location made them susceptible to attack by the whites and the Sioux, after only a few years, the Sahnish moved back to the Missouri River area.

In 1830, Congress established a vast Indian territory west of the Mississippi river. The entire state of Kansas was included in this territory.

The Territory of Kansas was an organized territory of the United States that existed from May 30,1854 until January 29, 1861, when Kansas became the 34th U.S. state admitted to the Union.

The territory extended from the Missouri border west to the summit of the Rocky Mountains and from the 37th parallel north to the 40th parallel. Much of the eastern region of what is now the State of Colorado was part of Kansas Territory. The Territory of Colorado was created to govern this western region of the former Kansas Territory on February 28, 1861.

In 1836-1837, the Sahnish people were decimated by the third epidemic of smallpox at their village below the Knife River near Ft. Clark. In 1856, the fourth smallpox outbreak occurred in the Star Village at Beaver Creek. The smallpox outbreak and constant raids by the more numerous Sioux finally forced most of the remaining Sahnish to join the Mandan and Hidatsa at Like-A-Fishhook Village in 1862, although some remained at Star Village at Beaver Creek. They had lost almost half of their population in the smallpox epidemics.

When European Americans first visited northeastern Kansas, the country was in the possession of the Kanza tribe (now called Kaw), which is where we got the name for the river and indirectly for the state and city.

In their exploration of the Missouri River the French reached as far north as the mouth of Kansas river early in the eighteenth century, and soon there were numerous couriers des bois, or traders, in the region of what is now greater Kansas City.

These Frenchmen were in contact with an Indian tribe to whom they gave the name Kaw. The name Kanza is the most widely accepted designation of this tribe as used by the people themselves before contact with the French.

The Kanza oral tradition says that the ancestors of these Indians had separated from the Omaha, or upstream people, who had come here from the region of the Ohio and Wabash rivers.

The separation is supposed to have taken place at the mouth of Kansas River, and the tribe was prevented from extending beyond the present northern boundary of Kansas by the Iowa and Sauk tribes, who had already received firearms from white traders in the north.

The Kanza tribe occupied 20 or more villages along the rivers before they were settled at Council Grove in 1847. They were removed to Indian Territory in Oklahoma in 1873.

In June, 1825, treaties were made with the Kanzas and Osages for the purchase of their lands, for a proposed removal into the territory of various Eastern tribes. Dozens of indian tribes were moved to the Kansas Territory before most were moved again later to the new Indian Territory in what is now the State of Oklahoma.

The U.S. Government hoped for a peaceful relocation. Of the tribes to move to the Kansas Territory, the Delaware, Kickapoo and Miami settled in the eastern part without incident. The Shawnee Indians took the lands ceded by the Kansa and Osage and are credited with establishing the first newspaper in Kansas.

More followed. The Chippewa, Fox, Sauk, Iowa, Ottawa and Potawatomi eventually gave up their hunting grounds and moved to the Kansas Territory. The Wyandot settled in present day Kansas City and founded the first free school.

But the Cherokee Indians refused to give up their land in Georgia. They declared themselves a sovereign nation and adopted a constitution. It was a valiant effort to hold on to their land, but failed.

In 1838, the U.S Army herded up the Cherokee Nation and drove them west toward the new Indian Territory. With limited provisions, harsh weather and the ravages of illness such as cholera and small pox, thousands of Cherokee died en route. The Cherokees called the 1,000 mile journey the Trail of Tears.

Once settled in the Indian Territory, the Cherokee joined forces with the newly relocated Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek and Seminole Indians to create the Five Civilized Tribes.

Kansas remained part of the Indian Territory until the passing of the Kansas-Nebraska Act in 1854. The land was opened to white settlers, and the majority of the tribes living on the Great American Desert were again forced to cede their land. This time, they moved south into present day Oklahoma.

The Delawares had been assigned a reservation “in the fork of the Kansas and Missouri rivers” in 1829, and in 1832 they were given land including the present day counties of Wyandotte, most of Leavenworth and Jefferson, and some of Jackson and Shawnee counties. The Wyandots, the last Indians to hold land in Wyandotte County, did not come there until 1843.

They were a civilized people and the businesses and farms which they established were as good or better than those of the white frontiersmen. They purchased land from the Delawares where the city of Wyandotte was later built, and a settlement was at once established. Their interpreter, J. W. Armstrong, built the first house of the settlement in 1843 and the following year he established the first free school.

Of the seven stockholders of the town company which founded Wyandotte, three were Wyandots (see above). The first sale of lots took place in 1857 and a post office was established the same year.

In 1858 a town government was granted and Wyandotte was established. The area in which the town was built was then a part of Leavenworth County. Wyandotte County was established the next year from the southeastern part of Leavenworth County and that portion of Johnson County lying north of the township line between Tps. 11 and 12 S. and east of R. 23 E.

On January 29, 1861, President Buchanan signed the bill admitting Kansas into the Union as a state.

Several other towns have merged with Wyandotte to form the present day Kansas City. Armstrong, an early settlement on the north side of the Kansas River and south of Wyandotte, was soon absorbed by the latter. Quindaro was north of Wyandotte.

Armourdale, north of the Kansas River, still has its identity, as to a greater degree have Argentine and Rosedale south of the river. The business districts of these last two are quite distinct from that of Kansas City proper. Rosedale was the last city to be annexed, the merger taking place in 1922.

Only five tribes retained reservations in Kansas: the Iowa, Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, and Potawatomi.


Timeline of the Three Affiliated Tribes
1250 to 2003 timeline of the Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara.

The forgotten ear of corn
An Arikara legend.

Kansas Indian Tribes

North Dakota Tribes
Includes map of the Fort Berthold Reservation

White Shield, Arikara chief wisdom card.

What indian tribes originated in Kansas?

Includes map of Kansas Territory Indian locations.


Westheight Manor Historic Survey
A more comprehensive history of the Kerr family and the plotting of the Westheight Manor district of Kansas City.

Learn Hidatsa

Our sister site on the Mandan, Hitadsa and Arikara tribes.

Kansas Indian Tribes
List of links to information on the 26 indian tribes that once lived in Kansas.

Indians of Kansas
Excerpt of the chapters on Kansas Indians from William G. Cutler’s book, History of the State of Kansas, which was first published in 1883.

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