The Importance of Acknowledging our History: National Archives Facilities in the Kansas City Area

This post is part of our ongoing blog series that acknowledges the ancestral lands on which the National Archives’ buildings are situated across the country. This series of acknowledgements is a simple way to offer our recognition and respect to the people  who once lived on these lands. 

The National Archives operates several facilities in the Kansas City area:  the National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri; the federal records center in Kansas City, Missouri; the federal records center in Lee’s Summit, Missouri; the federal records center in Lenexa, Kansas; and the Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum in Independence, Missouri. All five facilities are situated on the ancestral lands of the Osage and Kansa/Kaw peoples.

National Archives at Kansas City, Missouri, Pershing Road facility

The Osage people lived in the Kansas City area long before Europeans explored the area.  Artifacts in the area suggest that initial indigenous occupation dates back 10,000 years. The Kansas City Hopewell sites are only a few miles from several local NARA facilities.

Lenexa Federal Records Center, Lenexa, Kansas

The Kansa/Kaw  peoples also held ancestral lands in the present Kansas City area. “On July 4, 1804, Lewis and Clark’s Corps of Discovery was camped on the site of a Kanza (Kaw) village near the mouth of the Kansas River. They had been told of the proud warriors who inhabited this area, but did not encounter the tribe, who were hunting buffalo in the western part of present-day Kansas.” Kaw Nation Website. 

This Lewis and Clark Map from the Library of Congress shows locations of local Native American villages:

Independence area crop:

The Lewis and Clark expedition had a profound effect upon the Kaw. As people learned about the desirable lands along the Missouri and Kansas Rivers, the Kaws presented a formidable obstacle to westward expansion.” The Kaw Nation website. 

Kansas City Federal Records Center, Subtropolis facility, Kansas City, Missouri

In addition to the Osage and Kansas/Kaw peoples, numerous other tribes, including the Kickapoo, Shawnee, Delaware, Wyandotte, Kaskaskia, also had a presence here at different times.  

Map of Indian Tribes of North America, from the State Historical Society of Missouri
Lee’s Summit Federal Records Center,  Lee’s Summit, Missouri
The Harry S. Truman Presidential Library and Museum, Independence, Missouri

“The Kickapoo Tribe entered into 10 treaties with the United States government from 1795 to 1854. These treaties brought devastating consequences; the treaties shifted the homelands of the Kickapoos from Illinois to Indiana, Missouri, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, and Mexico.” From the Kansas Kickapoo Tribe website. 

George Catlin’s 1896 Map of Indian Country , from the State Historical Society of Missouri.

My thanks to Sam Rushay, Supervisory Archivist, Truman Presidential Library; Laurie Austin, audiovisual archivist, Truman Presidential Library;  Jake Ersland, Director of Archival Operations, National Archives at Kansas City; Tim Rives, Deputy Director of Archival Operations, National Archives at Kansas City; and Kimberlee Ried, Public Affairs Specialist, Museum Programs Division, the National Archives at Kansas City, who researched the information for this land acknowledgment. 

Enter your address in this interactive map of Traditional Native Lands to see who once lived where you are now. 

Additional Resources: 

  • Indians and Archaeology of Missouri by Carl H. and Eleanor F. Chapman (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1983). 
  • An Introduction to Kansas Archeology by Waldo R. Wedel (Washington, DC: US Government Printing Office, 1959). 
  • Prehistoric Man on the Great Plains by Waldo R. Wedel (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, fourth printing, 1974). 
  • The End of Indian Kansas by Craig Miner and WIlliam E. Unrau (Lawrence: University Press of Kansas, 1990).
  • Historic Sibley, Missouri website 
  • A map of Missouri notes Native American villages
  • An Indian Tribes of North America map comes from the State Historical Society of Missouri
  • Kansapedia
  • The IDA Treaties Explorer

From the National Archives’ Catalog: