The Kanza Indians and Lewis and Clark shared a common area at different times making Independence Creek one of the 8 Wonders of Kansas History.
THE KANZA TRIBE
When white explorers and traders first visited the area that
would become Kansas,
they encountered a thriving Native American society. The Kanza Tribe, which
controlled much of our current state, had its capital near the border of
Atchison and Doniphan counties in what today is Northeast Kansas.
The Kanza's Independence Creek settlement was noted as the
main village of the tribe as far back as 1673. By the time French explorer
Etienne Veniard de Bourgmont arrived in 1724, it was considered an old village and
the capital of the Kanza nation.
LEWIS & CLARK
When Lewis and Clark came down the Missouri River on their historic government-sponsored exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, they explored the Independence Creek
area, home of the Kanza Tribe. Their famous landing there in 1804 occurred on July 4 -- Independence
Ironically, both times the Lewis and Clark expedition visited the area (July 1804 and
Sept. 1806), the Kanza would have been at their buffalo hunting grounds
west. When the
expedition came through here in 1804, Clark noted the size of the
his questions about the village being empty in his journal.
Today, a recreated Kanza dwelling and a Lewis & Clark
historic site are side by side near thepoint where Independence Creek flows
into the Missouri River.
The historic Kanza dwelling was eclectic, using the most available
building materials. Theirearly migration from the areas near the Great Lakes saw a change from primarily bark-covered
lodges to those using sod as the primary covering. The recreated lodge at the
Independence Creek site is one of these unique structures.
The Kanza lived in permanent villages, cultivated crops like
beans, pumpkins, potatoes, melons and corn. Though fish, fowl and dog meat were
important sources of food for the Kanza, they participated in the nomadic
practices of other plains tribes. The entire tribe made two hunting trips to
the hunting grounds each year, using buffalo and deer skins to construct tipis
for shelter during the long expeditions to the high plains.
START AT ATCHISON'S RIVERFRONT PARK
The historic site at Independence Creek is at the end of a ten-mile round-trip loop from Atchison's Riverfront Park. Start the trail at the
beautiful Riverfront area where you'll find wide walkways and a stunning view
of the river and its surrounding bluffs. An open-air pavilion, built for Lewis and Clark's bicentennial celebration in 2004,
features an interactive touch screen computer where visitors can access
information about Lewis and Clark, the Missouri River, the Kanza
Indians and the Atchison area. It's located at Commercial Street and River Road.
Hikers, cyclists and
history buffs should all be interested in making the 10-mile round-trip trek to the Independence Creek
inhabited by the people who gave their name to our state. Along the way, markers tell about Lewis and Clark's expedition and the
early history of the area.
LEARN MORE AT THE ATCHISON COUNTY HISTORICAL MUSEUM
The Kanza lodge and Lewis and Clark
historic site are open year round. Dozens of Kanza artifacts are on display at
the AtchisonCountyHistoricalSocietyMuseum, located in the historic Santa
Fe Depot, 200 S. 10th Street in Atchison.
Both the Kanza civilization and the Lewis and Clark expedition are detailed in
informational materials at the museum and the AtchisonVisitorInformationCenter.
The Atchison County Visitor Center and Historical Society is open Monday-Friday 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Saturday 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (10 a.m.-4 p.m. before May 1); Sunday noon-5 p.m.
donations for museum admission: Adults $2; children $1; senior citizens $1.50; family $5.
Sources: Jason Nichols, Atchison Chamber of Commcerce and Chris Taylor, Atchison County Historical Society