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Kansas History - Spring 2018

Kansas History, Spring 2018(Volume 41, Number 1)

Isaias McCaffery, “We-He-Sa-Ki (“Hard Rope”): Osage Band Chief and Diplomat, 1821-1883.”

"We-He-Sa-Ki (called “Hard Rope” in English), was one of the inner circle of “founding fathers” who shepherded the Osage (Wah-Zha-Zhi) Nation through the perils of the late-nineteenth century.  A diplomat and “primary counselor” to Chief Pawhuska VI, We-He-Sa-Ki played many leadership roles during his remarkable life.  He was a band chief of the No-Tse-Wa-Spe (Heart Stays) division, an advocate (and combatant) for the Union during the Civil War, a treaty negotiator, an Army scout for George A. Custer, a member of the surveying party that selected the large Osage Reservation, a delegate for a Pan-Indian constitutional convention, a justice on the fledgling Osage Supreme Court, just to name a few… Faced with an overwhelming adversary in the form of the United States and the colonizing white settlers that Washington supported, We-He-Sa-Ki and other Osage chiefs engaged in a sophisticated diplomatic game that Niccolò Machiavelli might have approved of.  Wah-Zha-Zhi leaders played lip-service to the goal of cultural assimilation while securing as much material aid from the federal government as possible.  While losses to disease, hunger and violence were high in the period of Wah-Zha-Zhi removal, We-He-Sa-Ki and his contemporaries prevented what might have been complete destruction.   This article is the first attempt to piece together the life and career of an Osage leader from this pivotal period."

Christopher Lovett, Topeka. "Bad Girls: Sex, Shame, and the Legacy of Samuel J. Crumbine in Kansas, 1917-1955." 

In 1917, with the American entry into World War I, public health advocates such as Samuel J. Crumbine became instrumental in combating prostitution and venereal disease through the 1917 quarantine law. But that was not all. Crumbine was also influenced by a brutal murder in Topeka in 1916, which permitted him and his supporters to embark upon an aggressive sterilization program. Scholars, while acknowledging Crumbine’s paramount role in sanitation and public health, overlooked the eugenic dimensions of his public health advocacy. The passage of the sterilization and quarantine laws had far-reaching consequences for Kansans. Not only did Kansas public health officials suspend their adherence to the Hippocratic Oath, but the Kansas Legislature also abrogated its oversight responsibilities to the unelected State Board of Health. The Kansas judiciary likewise was not blameless, basing their legal judgments upon the mistaken assumption that the doctors knew best. Thousands of Kansas women were incarcerated because they were viewed as threats to public health, whereas the state’s male population was not. Many of those women were inadvertently sterilized by the state. Their story and public humiliation has never been told, and remained hidden in the records of the Kansas State Industrial Farm for Women.

Jay M. Price, “Assembling a Buckle of the Bible Belt: From Enclave to Powerhouse.”

The anti-abortion protests of the 1991 Summer of Mercy marked a shift in the history of Wichita, Kansas.  Through the 1980s, local leaders, even conservative ones, were often wary of overt activism, preferring instead to work through established political and social channels. By the 1990s, however, conservative activists positioned themselves as anti-establishment challenges to state and local bodies that they saw as unresponsive and timid.  Charismatic pastors lead growing megachurches and joined with conservative Catholics to mobilize religious conservatives on a number of social and political matters.  This shift transformed more than Wichita. The statehouse in Topeka was changing as well as the Sunflower State’s Congressional presence. Commentators at the time presumed that these efforts were just the latest manifestations of Wichita’s Bible Belt reputation.  Far from being an inherent local trait, however, the growth of evangelical religion in Wichita was the product of a particular set of personalities and trends that came together in the latter decades of the twentieth century.  By the twenty-first century, a city that once reflected the religious landscape of the Midwest had come to resemble the more evangelical cities of the South and Southwest.

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