The Trail of Tears of the Wyandot Indians
By Paul Edelman and Jill Draper
In the early 1840s a little-known Native American tribe, the Wyandot, was pushed from their home in Ohio to Kansas City. Tony Kostusik shared images, anecdotes and tales about their forced transition on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Trailside Center, 9901 Holmes Rd.
In a presentation titled “The Final Trail of Tears of the Wyandot Indians” Kostusik talked about the Wyandots’ somewhat recent re-emergence and how their presence in Kansas City has made the area’s history and culture that much richer.
“I find the topic very interesting because my grandparents owned a house right near 6th and Central, near where the Wyandot originally settled,” he says.
The Wyandots’ ancestral homeland is considered to be near an inlet of Lake Huron in Canada. (Some say Huron is the French word for Wyandot.) The tribe later dispersed due to war with the Iroquois and disease, one group traveling east to Quebec and the other south to Ohio, Michigan and Ontario, according to wyandot.org.
After 80 years in Ohio, the tribe left for Kansas in 1843, one of the last tribes to leave the east in accordance to the 1830 Indian Removal Act signed by President Andrew Jackson.
The $40,000 that was paid them for their land in Ohio was used to purchase 24,000 acres in what is now Kansas City, KS. The land stretched west from the Kaw point, where the Kansas and Missouri rivers meet, to what is now 72nd Street. in Kansas City, KS. Around 700 members of the Wyandot tribe make the 600 mile trek. During this time their name was Anglicized from Wendat to Wyandot or Wyandott or Wyandotte. In Kansas they founded the towns of Wyandott and Quindaro.
In the 1855 Treaty with the Wyandot Indians, the Wyandot relinquished their land and became U.S. citizens. Only 20 chose to remain Indian. They moved to the reservations in Oklahoma.
As he researched the Wyandots’ travails, Kostusik was astounded by the constant migration and emigration in the years of early America. “We’re a melting pot,” he says, remarking on how the movement of peoples to different areas in North America, whether that trek was compulsory or natural, shaped the country’s future demographics.