Welcome to the Kaw Nation

Washunga Days Powwow

Kaw Nation celebrated the Washunga Days Powwow on June 20 and 21 in Council Grove, Kan., continuing their Kansas story. Tribal Council Secretary Elaine Huch related to the crowd how the powwow tradition is more than dances in an arena.

“This is not a once-a-year thing. This is how we live,” she said.

Luther Pepper presented the Luther Pepper Lifetime Achievement Award to Ron Parks on Friday. Parks was the Kaw Mission administrator. He wrote the “Voices of the Wind” play and “The Darkest Period,” a book released in April about the nation’s time in Council Grove from 1847 to 1873.

“It is a deep honor to receive this award named for Luther Pepper, who, in my time here at the Kaw Mission, gave the gift of trust in embarking on a series of collaborative programs that the Kaw Mission, the town of Council Grove and the Kaw Nation did together. He and other leaders of the Kaw Nation were so receptive and worked so hard to affect a peaceful relationship where we were able to create those programs,” Parks said.

Before giving the opening prayer on Saturday, Curtis Kekahbah reflected on a visit to burial grounds in the area.

“They said that when they told the Kanza they would have to leave, they mourned for months because they would have to leave their graves behind, leave their people behind,” he said.

Robert Allen shook off fears to give strong leadership as head man dancer.

“He was nervous, but he came through in good form,” said Ken Bellmard.

As the powwow ended on Saturday, Pepper, whom Council Grove residents have long admired, gave a tearful sendoff thanking them for their warmth.

“We miss you throughout the year outside Washunga Days and Voices of the Wind,” he said.

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