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Kansas Kaleidoscope - February/March 2003

(Volume 6, Number 4)

Real People. Real Stories.

A fun magazine for kids!

Kansas Kaleidoscope, February/March 2003 Changing Landscapes

Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas, is an example of land use in today's world. Built in 1975, it houses more than 170 stores. Shopping malls have had an impact on the decline of downtown business districts in many Kansas communities within the last thirty years.

The Living Land

There are many things you can do with land. You can travel over it, build on top of it, dig it up. You can farm land, or use it for grazing animals. You can pave it to create roads and cities. You can flood it for recreation areas. You can even preserve it for wildlife or for study, like the Konza Prairie land in Kansas.

For Parents and Teachers:
The Kansas curricular standards for fourth grade require students to understand the variety of ways land has been used in Kansas over time. This issue explores some of the stories behind land use by the different peoples who have lived here. What influenced the choices they made about land? How did early explorers impact the use of our land? And why did migration affect land ownership and use? This issue will answer these questions and give students a broad view of how land ownership and use has changed over time. We also hope students will develop a better understanding of their own communities by exploring current land uses.

Spirit SpringsThis Land Is Your Land.

For hundreds of years, people traveled to America wanting land. Land was important in an agricultural world.

.This Land Is My Land

When Europeans arrived, they discovered American Indians living and farming on the land. Explorers 500 years ago wrote of seeing Indian cornfields several miles long.

Kansas: the "Great American Desert"

While American Indians farmed and hunted across Kansas, other settlers weren't interested. Europeans chose to first settle on the ocean coasts or the desert Southwest.

Kansas as "Indian Territory"

When the eastern United States became more populated, settlers wanted to move west. The U.S. government made agreements (called treaties) with some Indian nations for land rights.

Land Fever

Beginning in the 1850s, land-hungry settlers were pushing into Kansas' Indian Territory. Railroad companies also wanted more land to build tracks across the nation.


The U.S. opened Kansas Territory in 1854 for white settlement. Indians who had settled here twenty years earlier felt pressure to give up their lands to newcomers.

The Council at Medicine Lodge Creek

Indian nations who had long lived in Kansas fought to keep their homelands. The Kiowa and the Comanche met with U.S. government officials in 1867, at Medicine Lodge Creek.

Clash of Cultures

Government officials at the Medicine Lodge Creek council listened to Indian leaders. But they had different plans for their land.

A Race for Open Land

The government settled Indians on small reservations. Then they made much of the opened land available for individuals and businesses to own.

Moving Across the Land

Homesteaders weren't the only ones who wanted Kansas land. Cattle owners liked to let their herds graze across the wide, grassy plains.

"Don't Fence Me In!"

Cowboys hated the fences, which blocked trails and closed off good grassland and water the cattle needed. Sometimes cowboys tore fences down so the cattle could pass.

Growing a Town

Settlers needed somewhere to shop for supplies and services. Towns grew to provide for the needs of farmers.

Town Boosters & Boomers

Most Kansas towns were mapped out before a single person lived there. Land promoters known as town "boosters" or "boomers" hoped to make money by attracting settlers to buy their land.

Bright Lights, Big City

Some towns in Kansas were so successful at drawing people to them that they grew to become cities. One of the state's largest cities is Kansas City.

Urban Development

Not everyone enjoyed the crowding, dirt, and noise of city life. Urban residents often dreamed of having the benefits of country living close by.


The Johnson County Museums in Shawnee, Kansas, has a number of exhibits on the development of suburbs. . "The suburban ideal quickly became the leading vision of the good life after World War II [1945]," one exhibit explains.


Same Land, Different Uses

".another world emerged from the prairie. Automobiles would replace wagons. Supermarkets would replace farmland."

Shawnee Indian Land-A Story of Change

In the 1820s, 1.6 million acres of land was reserved for the Shawnee and other eastern Indian nations. Shawnee, Kansas, now occupies part of this land.

Where is the Kansas National Forest?

The federal government once protected 138,000 acres in western Kansas as forest land. The government made the land a forest reserve in 1895, before it discovered that most of the soil was too sandy to grow forest trees.

Seeing Ghosts

Though it may be hard to imagine, some Kansas towns became "extinct geographical locations" or ghost towns. More than 2,500 Kansas towns were settled and deserted, between 1852-1912 alone.

In This Issue:

  • A Place With Many Faces
  • Kaleidoscope Challenge
  • History Lab
  • Visit History
  • Come to Kansas!
  • Bee a Winner!