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Vanished Voices: The Legacy of Northeast Kansas Indians

July 17 - September 26, 2004


In conjunction with the Lawrence Sesquicentennial celebration and the annual Lawrence Indian Arts Show, the Spencer is pleased to present Vanished Voices: The Legacy of Northeast Kansas Indians, an exhibition organized by guest curator Joni Murphy and former museum director Andrea S. Norris. Vanished Voices will be on view in the White Gallery from July 17 through Sept. 26, 2004 and Murphy will give a gallery talk during Family Day, Sunday, July 18, as part of the public programming for the exhibition. (right: Haskell Babies, photograph. Haskell Indian Nations University)

It is important to note that the title of the exhibition does not refer to vanished civilizations; cultures of the Indian Nations represented in the exhibition survive and flourish on reservations and in communities in Kansas and Oklahoma. These nations have, however, vanished as indigenous people of Lawrence and most of Eastern Kansas as they were moved through force and treaty to other parts of Kansas or to other states.

"I'm pleased to be able to offer this exhibition and I appreciate that the executive board and the staff at the Spencer Museum of Art supported this venture," Murphy says. "It is an important exhibition in terms of the impact Native peoples have had on this area."

The exhibition includes objects drawn from museum collections in the Lawrence/ Kansas City/Topeka area. It does not include objects representing all the nations that spent time in Kansas, particularly those who lived in western Kansas. Determining what Indian groups lived in eastern Kansas 150 years ago is complex, since so many people had been forced to leave or to relocate as a result of pressure from their peers or from settlers from the United States. In the first half of the 19th century and especially during the 1830s, almost all Indians east of the Mississippi were moved west and directed or confined to reservations in so-called "Indian Territory," which generally comprised Oklahoma and parts of Kansas and Nebraska. With the designation of Kansas as a territory in 1854 and its official opening to white settlers, the Indians who had lived in Kansas for perhaps a generation or two were relocated to the newly defined Indian Territory in what is today Oklahoma. Most of the Indians who were forced to leave Northeast Kansas in 1854 were hardly indigenous to this region, having spent barely a generation in Northeast Kansas. The indigenous peoples had migrated or been pressured to leave much earlier. In some cases they had migrated to the Eastern Woodlands, forced back to Kansas in the 19th century, and then pushed out again. (left: Delaware, moccasins, leather, glass beads, ribbon appliqué. Museum of Anthropology, The University of Kansas; Gift of Forrest E. Jones, E3474)

Lawrence has the benefit of Haskell Indian Nations University, which brings Native Peoples from all over the United States to study in Lawrence. In the early 1880s, Lawrence citizens donated a 290-acre allotment of land along the southeastern city limits as a site for a new American Indian boarding school. When the school opened in September of 1884 as the United States Indian Industrial Training School, 22 students enrolled: 17 boys and five girls.

In the beginning the educational program centered on agricultural education in grades one through five. The original enrollment of 22 students rapidly grew to 400 within the first semester. The first "educational" trades offered to boys included tailoring, wagon making, blacksmithing, harness making, painting, shoe making, and farming. Girls were trained in cooking, sewing and homemaking. Most of the students' food for daily subsistence was produced on the Haskell farm, and the students were active in various industrial and agricultural duties. (right: Kiowa, cradle, wood, beads, leather, fabric. Museum of Anthropology, The University of Kansas; William Bridges Thayer Memorial, E0184)

Over the years Haskell became an elementary and high school, first providing industrial training and eventually becoming a post high school vocational institution. From 1970-1993 Haskell served as a junior college. Late in 1993, the National Haskell Board of Regents changed the school's title to reflect Haskell's new mission to function as a nationally known center of Indian higher education. Since then it has been known as Haskell Indian Nations University. Today, Haskell has been transformed from a boarding school intent on removing its students' cultural identities to a university that offers a unique Native curriculum that supports and encourages the cultural continuum of America's first citizens.

Vanished Voices: The Legacy of Northeast Kansas Indians is generously supported by Advocacy Research Institute, Inc.


Public programs for Vanished Voices: The Legacy of Northeast Kansas Indians:

Family Day and Public Opening: July 18, 1-3 p.m. Traditional Native Blessing by Tom Spottedhorse. 1:30 p.m.; gallery talk by guest curator Joni Murphy on Vanished Voices; 2 p.m. gallery talk by Mike Sims on Lawrence Lithography Workshop.
Children's Art Appreciation Class: "Un'bead'able Art," July 31, 10-30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
Gallery Talk: Joni Murphy, guest curator, August 26, 7 p.m., White Gallery.

rev. 7/31/04

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