Home » Uncategorized » Iowa and Sac & Fox Indian Mission School, Highland, Kansas

Iowa and Sac & Fox Indian Mission School, Highland, Kansas

     Several years ago, while visiting in St. Joseph, MO, we took a day to drive into Kansas and happened upon what was then the Native American Heritage Museum State Historic Site, 1737 Elgin Road, Highland, Kansas 66035.  The site is the remaining portion of a Presbyterian mission which was established in 1837 in present-day Doniphan County, KS, as the Iowa, Sac & Fox Mission to provide education to the three tribes of Indians who were moved to the area from the woodlands of the Great Lakes area.  Originally a one-room log structure covered with clapboards, the present three story stone and brick building was completed in 1846 to serve as a mission, dormitory, and school, with the brick manufactured on the site. The school was never a big success, but a cholera outbreak among the Indians living near the school in 1849, followed by a small pox outbreak in 1850 caused the Indians to shun the mission even more.  Built to accommodate 100 students, the structure had no more than 60 students at its peak.  In 1860, it became the Orphan Indian Institute, but this too failed.  By 1863 the mission was inactive as the native peoples were moved farther away, and in 1868 the building was sold.  In 1937 the Northeast Kansas Historical Society organized to preserve the remaining portion of the mission building.  Eventually, it became the property of the state of Kansas in 1941, and in 1963 the Kansas State Historical Society began administering the site as a museum which had displays about the history of local Indian tribes, focusing on the Iowas, Kickapoos, Potawatomis, Sacs and Fox, tribes with displays of clothing, folk art, food and customs.  The building itself has since been closed to the public.  However, what is now known as the Iowa and Sac & Fox Mission Site is a drive-through site with interpretative signage.

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