KAW TRAIL - Song Page
© words & music by Annie Wilson
from CD Clean Curve of Hill Against Sky

Album note: 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.

Above header illustration by Flint Hills artist Terra Coons (Cherokee).

Click below to LISTEN FOR FREE (to purchase go to STORE)

  1. 1

Learn more about the
Kanza people & Kaw Nation


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     


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