Kansas, a tribe of Indians of the Dakota family, who have given their name to one of the states of the Union. They are an offshoot of the Osages, and resemble them in person, character, customs, and language. They were first heard of by Marquette, who lays them down on his map in 1673 as on the Missouri, beyond the Missouris and Osages. They soon opened friendly intercourse with the French, who in 1700 prevented the Illinois and their allies from attacking them. They were visited in July, 1724, by De Bourgmont, who was on his way to the Comanches, and was well treated by the Kansas. A Jesuit mission among them is spoken of in 1728. They finally made peace with the Osages in 1806. After Louisiana was ceded to the United States, government made a treaty of peace with the Kansas, Oct. 28, 1815. They were at this time on the river Kansas at the mouth of the Saline, having been forced from the right bank of the Missouri by the Sioux. They numbered about 1,500 in 130 earthen lodges. They had been hostile, but were then friendly. They defended themselves bravely against the Pawnees and Ottoes, but in 1819, at the instance of Major Long, their chief Herochshe made peace with the Ottoes and other tribes.
Some chiefs accompanied Major O'Fallen to Washington about 1820. By the treaty of June 3, 1825, Nampawarrah, or White Plume, and other chiefs, ceded all their lands in Missouri and some west of that state, retaining a reservation 30 m. wide on the Kansas river. Thirty-six sections of good land were to be sold, and the proceeds invested as a school fund. In return government was to give them an annuity of $3,500 for 20 years, and aid them with domestic animals and farming implements to adopt an agricultural life. They were at this time uncontaminated with the vices of the whites, but were indolent and averse to all improvement. The buffalo was their great dependence, although game.of all kinds was beginning to diminish rapidly. Their houses were conical, 40 ft. in circumference and 10 ft. high, formed of poles, covered with bark, and then with sods a foot thick. The frame was supported by wooden posts. Their features were nearly European; they shaved the head, except the scalp lock, which passed through a bone ring, and was adorned with a crest of deer's hair. They had discarded buffalo robes for blankets, and were expert with the rifle. The Methodists began a mission among them in 1835, and labored many years, but failed to produce any impression, or to make their school successful.
In 1838 the Kansas had divided into three towns, two on the north bank and one on the south. They could not be induced to cultivate the soil, and being constantly at war with the Pawnees, and in their hunts frequently attacked by other tribes, they lost rapidly in numbers. By the treaty of January, 1846, they ceded certain lands for $200,000, 5 per cent. on which amount was to be paid annually, and a reservation of 20 m. square was assigned to them on the head waters of the Neosho, S. of the Shawnees and W. of the Sacs and Foxes. In 1849 they had gathered on the Neosho, began to use liquor freely, and to plunder the trains on the Santa Fe road. As Kansas began to be settled their reservations were invaded by whites. In 1856 the half-breeds, who were all Catholics, were forced from their reservation by the squatters, aided by officials. Neither the Kansas nor the half-breeds took any part in the Kansas troubles. Railroad companies, by a treaty of 1854, obtained a right of way through the reservation. During the civil war 80 or 90 entered the United States army, and did good service. In 1862 stone houses were erected, a school was begun by the society of Friends, and an attempt was made again to induce them to cultivate the soil; but these efforts proved ineffectual.
Peace was indeed made with the Pawnees, but their reservations were now overrun, and out of 80,000 acres they had only 225 in cultivation; the Indians, with the annual appropriation of $10,000, were actually starving. They sought to move to Indian territory. A treaty was made with commissioners at Washington in 1867, and another in March, 1869; but by the act of May 8, 1872, government directed their reservation of 80,000 acres, and their trust lands of 137,000 acres, to be sold, half the proceeds to be invested for their benefit, half to be spent in providing and improving new homes for them within the Osage reservation in Indian territory. Besides the money to arise from this source, they have 5 per cent. on $200,000 under the treaty of 1846, and the interest on $27,485 stocks held for them by government. The tribe about 1850 numbered 1,300; in 1860, 803; in 1872, 593.