A tribe native to Quebec, the Wyandot had earned land on the Upper Sandusky in Ohio when they stayed out of the War of 1812 between the British and the French. Originally more than 40,000 souls, through smallpox and the constant and prolonged warring of their own cantankerous culture, only about 700 people were left to settle the new land. By the time they arrived in Indian Territory (Kansas), Christianity in the form of a free black preacher named John Stewart had succeeded in diluting the culture so that it was no longer so different than the lives of the whites whom they lived amongst. In fact, rather than the nomadic life of the Plains Indian whose life was regulated by the movement of the buffalo, most Wyandots were farmers and merchants who often intermarried with the white settlers.
The tribe resisted removal for a valiant twelve years. But worn out by the constantly encroaching Europeans, they finally signed a treaty for $23,000 as well as $18,000 per annum and 142,000 acres of land in Indian Territory along the Neosho River in southeast Kansas. However, considering this land too far from civilization, the Wyandots arranged to buy land from the Shawnees with whom they had once been allied.
Once the Wyandots arrived, however, the Shawnee refused to sell the land that had been promised. Though some richer members of the tribe rented houses near Westport, Missouri most of the people camped in the marshy river bottoms where hundreds became sick and at least sixty died. Desperate, the Wyandots appealed to their old friends, the Delawares. They owned the triangular patch of land between the rivers and agreed to sell thirty-six sections, including Kaw Point, and to award three more free sections to show respect for their brothers.
The people named the town, Quindaro, after a Wyandot Indian woman, Nancy Brown Guthrie, whose Indian name was Quindaro and who had helped secure the land. Translated, the word means “a bundle of sticks,” but interpreted in the poetic eye of the Indian language, it means “strength in unity.”
Photo from The Afro-American Community in Kansas City, Kansas: A History, Community Development Program, 1980.