Welcome to the Kaw Nation

Flint Hills Day


Kaw Nation presented the part of Kansas culture for which the state is named during Flint Hills Day at the Flint Hills Discovery Center in Manhattan, Kan., on Saturday. The day was dedicated to displaying different aspects of the state.

Pauline Sharp greeted Discovery Center visitors and discussed the Kanza story with them.

“Did you know the state of Kansas is named after the Kaw Nation? We call ourselves the Kanza,” she quizzed people.

Curtis Kekahbah and Erin Pouppurt related Kanza stories to visitors.

While discussing his experiences as a traditional counselor at a Veterans Affairs hospital, Kekahbah told of the Native concept that ailments affect the spirit, mind and then the body.

“You are at dis-ease,” he said, adding that the goal in the spirit-mind-body approach is to bring the patient back to ease.IMG_3209

Also, he spoke of the importance of extended family in tribal communities. He said that aunts and uncles have traditionally held roles as parent figures, teaching children of siblings. Plains Indian children had as many fathers or mothers as there were brothers or sisters of the parents.

“That’s why I feel bad for people who say they don’t have any family,” he said, speaking to the value of having those connections.

Pouppurt talked about Native American traditions and regalia.

Flint Hills Discovery Center Director Fred Goss explained tribes’ significance to the Flint Hills.

“It’s the use of the buffalo and its byproducts, how they hunted in the central and western part of the state, and wood and water here and how people adapt,” he said.

Other Flint Hills Day activities included a bird display by the Millford Nature Center and Native American craft-making for children. Goss said that the center is happy to continue its relationship with the tribe and is planning the 2015 Flint Hills Day.

In the evening, the Kanza gave a dance exhibition at the Blue Earth Plaza.

Luther Pepper explained how the Kanza people value the powwow.

“When all of us made it through a bad winter, we would celebrate. When we had a good harvest, we would celebrate the good crops or whatever Wakanda had blessed us with,” he said.

He added that each element of the powwow is treated with sanctity.

“These songs that we sing are sacred. This regalia is sacred,” he said. “But we don’t worship them.”


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