The Fort was established in 1853 as a military post to protect the movement of people and trade over the Oregon/California Santa Fe Trail. Surveyors believed the location near the center of the United States and named the site Camp Center.
On June 27, 1853, Camp Center became Fort Riley in honor of Major General Bennett C. Riley, who led the First military escort along the Santa Fe Trail in 1829.
Fort Riley is near the Kansas River Valley. This is also the area that the Kanza have Blue Earth Village, one of the largest archeological sites in Kansas. The area is rich with prehistoric and historic remains. The fertile lands and location to a water source made this area an ideal place for the Kanza as well as Tribal Indians who were traveling through this land hunting the buffalo and the bison long before. The Kanza have taken pride in the establishment of a relationship between the Kaw Tribe and Fort Riley as caretakers to the history of this area.
The Kaw Nation has had an excellent relationship with the U.S. Army at Fort Riley, Kan. This relationship began with the signing of the Comprehensive Agreement on July 24, 1998. This agreement sets out procedures regarding inadvertent discoveries and intentional excavation of the Native American human remains and cultural items over which the Kaw Nation may have priority of custody within lands owned or controlled by the U.S. Army at Fort Riley, Kan.
The Kaw People, the indigenous occupants of the land which are now included in the State of Kansas and within the boundaries of the Fort Riley Military Reservation, have claimed and asserted their rights of possession and control of human remains and associated funerary objects on lands now owned or controlled by Fort Riley within the pages a Comprehensive Agreement. What makes this Comprehensive Agreement significant is the large village “Blue Earth Village,” which is located near Manhattan, Kan., and includes the hunting grounds and possibly burial sites of the Kaw People.
Your Environmental Department within Fort Riley has been advantageous in assisting the Kaw Nation with reburial and repatriated remains from the Peabody Museum at Cambridge, Mass., and St. Louis, Mo. We are very satisfied with the support we receive from Fort Riley and hope to have a long and lasting relationship.