Jump to Navigation

Kansas Archeology Training Program Field School

Archeological Investigation of the Kaw Mission (14MO368)

The Kansas Archeology Training Program field school will investigate the Kaw Mission State Historic Site (14MO368), 500 North Mission Street in Council Grove, June 2-17,Kaw Mission 2018. Kaw Indian Mission was built in 1851 by the Methodist Episcopal Church South and served as a school for boys in the Kaw or Kansa tribe between 1851 and 1854. Thomas Sears Huffaker, a 24-year-old teacher, was director of the school. The school building and lot were acquired by Huffaker in 1865. Reportedly, there were other owners of the mission in the last decades of the nineteenth century before the Huffaker family acquired it again. The family sold it to the state of Kansas in 1951. Kaw Mission was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1971 and is also a contributing element of the Council Grove Historic District. The school is now operated as Kaw Mission State Historic Site by the Kansas Historical Society.

Previously uninvestigated archeologically, systematic metal detection survey and limited archeological testing were carried out at Kaw Mission during the 2016 KATP field school and 2016 KAA Fall Fling (see KAA Newsletter 38(3):1 and 38(4):5-6). In April 2017 a geophysical survey was conducted on the property.

KSHS Highway Archeologist Tricia Waggoner will be the principal investigator. She has been steeped in Kansa archeology since directing a year-long highway project at Fool Chief’s Village (14SH305), of which the 2012 KATP field school was a small part. Her draft report of that massive project is under review. She presented a talk at the 2017 Plains Anthropological Conference in October 2017, “Preliminary Investigations at Kaw Mission.” Waggoner earned an M.A. in anthropology from Wichita State University in 2005 and has been with the KSHS since 2006. In addition to the Kansa Indians, her research interests include fiber and textiles. Tricia is currently president of the Professional Archaeologists of Kansas and a member of the Plains Anthropological Society, Nebraska Association of Professional Archeologists, and the Kansas Anthropological Association.

Waggoner has formulated nine research questions to be addressed during the field school.

1. What evidence exists of the different uses that were reported for the Kaw Mission site, i.e., mission school for Kaw boys, schoolhouse for area white children, council house, courthouse, private residence, tourist attraction, and museum?

2. What can archeology teach us about changes in property use over time?

3. Is there evidence of Kansa influence at the mission?

4. Is there evidence for property uses not previously recorded, e.g., Civil War-era camp?

5. How did different communities (e.g., white and Kaw) view, use, and interact with the Kaw Mission and how did those factors change over time?

6. Is there evidence of a relationship to the Santa Fe Trail?

7. From what era and how intact are the extant cultural deposits?

8. Can the outbuildings that once stood on the grounds be located, their functions revealed, and their dates of construction and razing determined?

9. What is the effect of repeated flooding and other impacts on the property?

The project will start on Saturday, June 2, 2018. While the first day of fieldwork is reserved for people who have participated in a previous KATP field school, the introductory classes and the lab will be open to all that day. Field activities will be available to everyone starting on Sunday, June 3. The final day of the project will be Sunday, June 17.

Council Grove Recreation and Events Center (formerly the National Guard Armory), 1020 East Main Street, Council Grove, will be the project headquarters for check-in, the artifact processing laboratory, and the lab class. No indoor or outdoor camping is available there. Other classes and evening programs will be held at Kaw Mission or other venues to be announced.

Four classes will be offered for college credit through Emporia State University, for KAA certification credit, or simply for the information: Archeological Fieldwork, Basic Laboratory Techniques, Basic Archeological Excavation, and Preservation 101.

Further details of the KATP field school will be included in the registration packet, which will be posted on this web page (http://www.kshs.org/14622) in mid-December but also available in hard copy upon request. The packet will contain forms for KAA and/or Kansas Historical Foundation (KHF) membership; registration and scheduling forms; a list of recommended equipment; instructions for enrollment in formal classes; details about the KAA certification program; a preliminary schedule of accompanying activities; a map of pertinent project locations; and options for lodging, indoor and outdoor camping (including low-cost alternatives), and food. Be aware that lodging options in the immediate area are limited, especially during Symphony in the Flint Hills on June 9 and Washunga Days on June 15-16.

Registration forms submitted/postmarked by May 1 qualify for a participation fee of $20 for KAA and KHF members and $80 for nonmembers. After May 1, the participation fee increases to $30 for members and $90 for nonmembers.

Although field and laboratory activities continue without stopping for the 16-day period, volunteers may participate for a single day or the entire time. Participants must be at least 12 years of age, although children 10 or 11 who started in the KATP in a previous year will be allowed to continue. Those younger than 14 must plan to work with a parent or other sponsoring adult at all times, and a legally responsible adult must accompany participants between 14 and 18 years of age.

The KSHS and the KAA do not discriminate on the basis of disability in admission to, access to, or operation of their programs. The KSHS requests prior notification to accommodate individuals with disabilities or special needs. To make special arrangements, contact Gina Powell  785-272-8681, extension 258.