Kaw Trade with Euro-Americans
|France, Spain, and England all claimed the
land now known as Kansas. They were all directly interested in
the fur trade. This contact between Native Americans and
Europeans was both friendly and hostile. Although trade brought
native peoples new products and goods, it also created economic
dependency. In addition, contact with Europeans brought the
Indians new diseases such as smallpox, measles, whooping cough, and
influenza, which greatly depopulated the Indian tribes.
The Kaws learned how to exploit the competition between the
French and British. They realized that they could, from their
strategic position at the mouth of the Kansas River, encourage,
or hinder Euro-American commercial
penetration into the vast fur reserves of the Middle Missouri
and Arkansas valleys.
||By 1800, the principal
Kaw village had been established on
the north bank of the Kansas River near the mouth of Blue Earth
River, well away from the better-armed Omahas, Sacs, and Iowas
to the Northeast.
| This village location provided the
a greater measure of protection from the tribes to the east, and
more convenient access to untapped hunting grounds to the west.
However, it placed them in closer proximity to the Pawnees to
the north and west.
peltry, the Kaws wanted from the Americans a cheap supply of
firearms, ammunition, blankets, vermilion, hardware, flour,
whiskey, and trinkets. They also demanded that
the traders visit their villages on a regular basis. After 1800,
at least four groups working out of St. Louis sought to
monopolize the Kaw trade.
|In 1803, the United States acquired the vast tract of land
known as the Louisiana Purchase. From then on, the Kaw were
forced to trade at Fort Osage which was well over one hundred
miles from the Blue Earth village. Fort Osage was also at least
two hundred miles from the Kaws' principal hunting and trapping
As the numbers of bison diminished during the 1800s, the Kaws
increasingly dependent on their "annuities." They were
forced onto their first reservation in 1825.
These annual payments, called annuities, began when the first Kaw
Reservation was established by the Treaty of 1825.