Kansas tribe celebrates anniversary of removal from Cherokee Nation

By The Herald Staff

The Munsee Tribe of Kansas ancestors endured many hardships fighting for their lives and land.

The Munsees were nearly driven to Cherokee Nation 153 years ago.

In 1868, a treaty was proposed by Kansas Sen. Samuel Pomeroy initiating removal of the Chippewa and Munsee tribes to Indian Territory.

The Chippewa people, being Anishnabek relatives to the Ottawa and Potawatomi tribes, were going to join the Ottawa Tribe in Indian Territory on reservation lands acquired from the Seneca Shawnee Tribe as gratitude for the Ottawa Tribe hosting the Seneca Shawnee Tribe on their lands when the  Civil War forced the Seneca Shawnee people to flee violence. This Ottawa removal occurred in 1867 and the the Chippewa people were going to move there.                                                                                 

The Christian Munsee Treaty of June 1, 1868, was signed by

Edward McCoonse, Louis Gokey, Ignatius Caleb, and Moses A. Kilbuck and was read and interpreted by Chippewa interpreter Antoine Gokey and Munsee interpreter Moses A. Kilbuck. It wasn't ratified by the U.S. Senate though.

Mike Ford, historian and researcher for The Munsee Tribe in Kansas, said the ratification did not come because the Senate was involved in impeachment hearings of President Andrew Johnson.

“Much of that year politically was spent on the impeachment and unsuccessful removal of President Andrew Johnson, who became President after the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln on April 9, 1865.”

President Johnson's impeachment trial took place from Feb.24, 1868, to May 26, 1868. He was acquitted by the vote of Kansas Sen. Edmund Ross of high crimes and misdemeanors.

The Northern Republicans felt that the Democratic President Johnson was going easy on the former Confederate States of America after their surrender and they weren't happy with this behavior, Ford said.

That allowed the Munsees freedom to stay on their small tract of land until until an allotment/dissolution act put forth by Kansas Sen. Charles Curtis became part of the Appropriations Act of June 7, 1897.

This enacted legislation was finalized on Dec. 8, 1900, with the issuing of 40-acre patents in fee from the assigned allotments of the Chippewa and Munsee members assigned in the ratified Chippewa and Munsee treaty of July 16, 1859, and the dispersal per capita of tribal funds to eligible Chippewa and Munsee members receiving $491 per person from the now fully dissolved Treasury funds held in trust for these tribes as from the proceeds of their land sales caused by removal in the 19th century.

That act allotted their reservation out of federal trust status but the children of both tribes were taken to Indian Boarding schools into the 1950s.

The Munsee Tribe in Kansas continues its fight today. The Munsees are currently seeking the re-acknowledgement of their status as a federally recognized tribe and is reflecting historically on their legislative past with the U.S. Government and other tribal nations.

In their history, the Munsee ancestors endured many moves from Canada and war in Ohio after their people were massacred by a Pennsylvania militia at the Moravian mission town of Gnadenhutten on March 8, 1782, during the American Revolutionary War.

The government offered three parcels of land to the Christian Munsee Indians in 1788 to return to the United States. The government sold those former Moravian mission town parcels in 1823, and offered 24,000 acres west of the Mississippi River if the Christian Munsee Indians returned to the United States. The Christian Munsee Indians returned to the United States through Wisconsin and by riverboat to Westport in 1838-39.

The Christian Munsee people lived on Delaware land at the Westfield mission until that land was sold to the Wyandotte Tribe in 1853. The Delaware Tribe sold the Christian Munsee tribe four sections of land in an 1854 treaty. Squatters and politicians pushed the Christian Munsee Indians from that land by 1858.

In 1859, the Christian Munsee Indians entered into a treaty with the Black River and Swan Creek Chippewa tribe to live on their reservation.

In 1861, Kansas became the 34th state in the Union. The same year, the Sac and Fox of the Mississippi River, Roche de Boeuf

and Blanchard's Fork Ottawa, Peoria and Kaskaskia, and Chippewa and Christian Munsee tribes had reservation lands in what's now Franklin County.

The Mission Potawatomi tribe had relinquished their reservation land in southern Franklin County to move closer to their Prairie Band Potawatomi relatives between modern day Topeka and Wamego in the Kansas River valley in 1848. The Shawnee Tribe relinquished their reservation land in northern Franklin County after their 1854 treaty diminished their reservation from 1.6 million acres to 200,000 acres.