Before the European “White Man” Settlers from the east arrived in Kansas, [prior to 1830] there were already inhabitants that occupied this land called El Paso. There was a Major documented settlement around Ark City as early as 1540 [Coronado Expedition]. There is very little mention of Native Americans in my readings on the history of Kansas or the El Paso area. A lot of them were new to the area. They had migrated from the east, a lot of them coming from the Florida, Georgia and the New York area because they were promised land. The Louisiana Purchase  and the Homestead act of 1862 brought the early settlers, With the coming of the white man they seemed to clear out of those areas or were forcefully pushed out. Kansas was still open country and was to be a free state. It seems slavery affected the Indians too. The Chisholm Trail had been active since 1840 and much exploration promoted by the Railroad, which had made it’s way to Salina in 1867, Wichita, Mulvane, Winfield all active around 1850. The El Paso area settlement began around 1870. With the activity of the Railroad and the Chisholm trail “The Garden Spot” of Kansas, the area of the Arkansas River south of Wichita was clear to settle. Anna Garrett daughter of Alexander and Margaret was said to be the first white person born in the area in 1870.
The “Wichita Indian” group were the ones who inhabited what is known as the “Great Bend Aspect” which is the fertile lowlands that follow the Arkansas river from Great Bend to south-central Oklahoma. There were many divisions and subdivisions, all known as the Wichita! Iscani, Taovaya, Tawakoni, Osage, Pawnee, Waco, Kansa, and many more. They roamed a Lot! traveling from Wichita Falls Texas, Wichita Mountains in Oklahoma to north of Wichita, west of Salina. The early explorers, French, from the north and the Spanish from the south, mapped the location of tribes only to find no more occupation, of those areas years later. Most permanent camps were located from Ark City to the north, to southeastern Oklahoma and Arkansas. The Walnut river, Arkansas river, The Little river, Osage river, Neosho river, Grand rivers, Missouri river, Verdigris river valleys to the lake area of Oklahoma, where the larger populations existed. The others were roaming families that only stayed in the same location for a few days up to a week. There was in early 1800, a camp of Wichita Indians “In Wichita!” and south of Wichita [in the picture] this IS! Derby across the river from an Indian camp. Notice the open plains with No Trees!
This is an Actual Wichita Indian Camp looking south upon El Paso in 1879
From Hoard, Robert. (2012). Archeological Investigations at Arkansas City, Kansas.
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