10. The Kaw Trail - ©  Anne B. Wilson 2010

The settlers took their land; the state took their name.  The
Kansa or Kaw Indians were repeatedly allotted smaller reservations until
they were finally exiled from Kansas in 1873.  In their last years here, they
looked forward to interludes of freedom when they left the reservation to go
west for annual buffalo hunts.  I learned the facts for this song from author
Ron Parks, a former administrator at the wonderful Kaw Mission Historical
Site in Council Grove, which continues to celebrate the heritage of the Kaw.


On westward we go toward the last buffalo
To the high plains of sturdy short grass
Where the great southern herd's still a sight beyond words
As it covers the prairie so vast

On to Plum Creek and Turkey Creek, Smoky Hill, too
Our ponies and families walk
To the campgrounds we know of our grandfathers' ghosts
From the past glory days of the Kaw

We follow the trail, our ancestors' trail
Over hillside and river and vale
Beside sunflowers high 'neath an indigo sky
We'll journey along the Kaw Trail

Our gardens are trampled by white squatters' cows
We gave up our corn and our beans
While we hunt in the west they are stealing the rest
And we come back to places stripped clean

In the year that the whites call eighteen-fifty-five
Nearly one out of four of us died
The smallpox and hunger took loved ones away
Breaking hearts of the ones who survived     Now...CHORUS

The trader he tries to divide us with lies
And turn some of us back on the others
But when we go west, we are back to our best
Where each Kaw is the other one's brother     So...CHORUS
Clean Curve of Hill Against Sky
Volume 1 Songs of the Kansas Flint Hills
Kaw photos courtesy Kansas State Historical Society;
Buffalo photos by Ron Klataske; teepee photo by Annie Wilson
click note for
music sample
Back to Main Clean Curve CD Page