What in the Dickens is “Peace Treaty?” Handy Tips for an Enjoyable Weekend in Medicine Lodge, KS.

Let us welcome you to a step back in time next Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Sept 25-27, 2015) as the Medicine Lodge area ‘commemorates the great Peace Council of 1867 between the U.S. Government and the proud civilization of the Plains Indians:

Apache • Arapaho
• Cheyenne • Comanche • Kiowa

  The Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty re-enactment compresses 300 years of history into two hours of entertainment and education. Set against the panoramic backdrop of the timeless “Red Hills” and the Kansas sky, the Pageant commemorates the diverse cultures of the “Discoverers, Explorers, and Settlers” mixed with the Native peoples of the Central Plains.

   In a natural amphitheater, near the actual site of the council where the Medicine River (named by the Kiowa for its medicinal waters)
and Elm Creek flow together, the re-enactment takes place, and peace will come with time to the prairie.

   The Pageant is an invitation to watch history unfold: the Spanish Discovery with Coronado; Lewis and Clark and Zebulon Pike come alive on the prairie, and now the natives are unsure of their place in their homelands. The settlers were moving West and thoughts of railroads were in the future. Not all were peaceful journeys in the covered wagons, and sometimes, the cavalry would rescue the settlers in an Indian attack. The longhorn cattle drive is another colorful scene.

  The community of Medicine Lodge transforms into a frontier town, with parades and the Medicine Lodge Historical Night show, which re-enacts the Bank Robbery that took place in 1880’s, and Carry Nation who loved to smash saloons and any place that sold the “Demon Rum!” The setting for the Pageant and the entire celebration is wrapped in the rust-colored glory of the Gypsum Hills
on the horizon.'(source: www.peacetreaty.org)

While I am not an expert by any means, I can give a visitor a few pointers to make your visit a memberable one.

*Be prepared for any weather.  It could be hotter than Wyatt Earp’s pistol or breezy enough to frost bite a prairie flower.  (Even they will have on turtlenecks and tights if it gets that cool.)  We’ve seen both in the course of a weekend-just prepare like you are going to a football game or the State Fair and you’ll be fine.  Walking shoes are must.  A lawn chair and a blanket thrown in the trunk could be the best idea you’ve had since Lincoln was president.

* Bring that camera and click to your hearts content.  Tons of great photo opps abound.  (Believe it or not, my parents had slides from the late 60’s that have my husband Cliff’s family driving the ox wagon.  Who knew, huh?)

* The shuttle to the pageant is the way to go.  No parking and travel hassles out at the amphitheatre.  They are usually located in a couple locations up town.

* Prepare to see a hangin’.  Don’t worry!  It’s usually just Jerry Chance who gets strung up at 8pm and 10pm nightly.  He’s a master at the ‘leg kick’.  Trust me, it hasn’t scarred my kids any worse than our parenting skills.

* Talk to the characters.  While some people fill in to help out at the last minute, many of them have researched their unique characters and can tell you amazing stories.

* Get a schedule.  There is one at www.peacetreaty.org. There is so much going on, I don’t see how a soul gets around to everything in three days, let alone one.  Several attractions are free. Also, don’t miss picking up the Gyp Hills Premiere Peace Treaty Edition newspaper.  It is a wealth of information and history.  A great resource for yourself or any youngsters needing report information.

* Be respectful of the Indian Village.  While they absolutely want you to come visit, this is where they are actually living, so ask before you snoop.  Go check out their goodies and take in a dance or two at the brand new Pow Wow Arena.

* Be careful around the animals.  While most are tame, this is a huge event for them full of new sounds and strangers. Also, watch your step-you know what I mean.

*  Please have patience with all of us-from ticket takers, to businesses, to food vendors, etc.  We haven’t done this in five years and are doing our best, but it aint’ gonna be perfect, pilgrim.  Just allow plenty of time to get where you want to go.

*Don’t miss the Kansas Championship Ranch Rodeo on Friday and Saturday nights, the activities at the Stockade Museum and Carry Nation Home, the Muzzleloaders/Mountain Man Encampment, and so much, much more uptown.

If you like to learn more about the history of this area, here are several books I like, but I’m sure there are more.  Medicine Lodge by Nellie Snyder Yost, The Treaty of Medicine Lodge by Douglass C. Jones, and The Use and Need of Carry Nation, by Miss Carry herself. This year The Spirit of the Prairie by Marcia Lawrence, which is hot off the press plus several others. Put Medicine Lodge in the Amazon.com search and you can find enough info to keep you reading through the winter.

Most of all, come and enjoy!  Consider this a personal invitation.  We’d be blessed to have you!  Don’t let the rare opportunity slip by.

photo credit: Kyle Gerstner

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I Woke Up as ‘Kelly’ and Going to Bed as ‘Mary’

It’s true.  Tonight when Cliff comes home, he may not even recognize me.  During the course of the day, something happened that changed my whole identity–for a little over a week anyway.

As everyone knows in this neck of the prairie in about a week, our little town of Medicine Lodge, KS will be turned upside-down and backwards.  Crowds will converge to be taken back in time to the days when Indians roamed the prairies and we watch Coronado’s quest for the Cities of Gold.  Cattle drives and wagon trains will weave their way through cedars as the Calvary is always ready to save the day against a scenic backdrop.  (Go to www.peacetreaty.org to see a shedule and get information.  I’m required by law as a resident of ML to get the word out.  They make you pledge to do this before they will turn your utlities on or breathe the air when you move here. )  It is truly a ‘must experience event’.  If I mentioned everything else that goes on- this blog would turn into a novel

Growing up, we didn’t miss a pageant.  Due to my ML cousin’s influences, I grew up thinking that everyone played “can-can dancers’.  The girls got to dance as prairie flowers on the plains.  Never was I so in awe as one cousin got to be Coronado’s bride or jealous when one had the lead every young gal wants-The Spirit of the Prairie.

Cranking the clock forward, I have lived here for 21 years and lived through my share of Peace Treatys. One I was 8 1/2 months pregnant, thus not really a fan of riding in a wagon unless they wanted to add a baby-birthing scene.  I was willing.  Cliff said ‘no.” The rest of the time, I have been ‘the mom’ who made sure her prairie flowers got bussed to the school to hop a bus to the arena or made three trips on back streets so my kids could make multiple appearances in the parade as Indian Maidens, playing in high school band, scouts, and whatever else they raised their little hands to volunteer them—me—us for.  One Peace Treaty rumor had it that our little town of 2200 had near 20,000 in it, so transportation is oodles of fun.  Not only that, we have always lived just meer blocks from where the uptown action is.  This gives us the opportunity to show hospitality to family and out-of-town friends who don’t have their hearts set on using a pot-a-potty or want to fight lines for food.  Trying to orchestrate where everyone is and what they are up to has been my full time job.

But, this one is different.  My kids-God knows I love’em, but are on there own!  They all are of age, can drive and can operate a house key.  Truth be told, I probably wouldn’t see much of them anyway. Our family and friends know the drill by now and are welcome to make themselves at home.  Newcomers will be fine as our house will be have as much traffic through it as Grand Central Station and can help them.  Yes, I am jumping at the chance to play dress up!

But stuff always seems to come up. Due to unsure plans, I hadn’t committed to anything in the pageant and I do have to be gone for part of the performance on Saturday, thus messing that up.  Then, I had a little cotton frock, but wasn’t thrilled about and no time to stitch one up, so that kind of damped my vigor.   Another Peace Treaty seemed to be slipping by-sigh.

Then a reversal of fortune came my way.  Two weeks ago I opened a garment bag of my mom’s.  I’m sure I had opened it, glanced and zipped it up to deal with later.  Little did I know it was my mom’s sewing masterpiece of all time.  Tucks, insets, and ruffles.  A very detailed pioneer dress with apron and shawl.  What’s more it fit perfectly!  A little research online and a scalp of dark blonde curly Peace Treaty hair is UPS-ing itself my way to clip on to this fright wig. A day or two later a friend caught me and asked if I had extra time that I could fill a spot at the Stockade Museum.  Yes, I could.  Today, we confirmed the time.  Before I hung up I not only will be in all three parades, but I have a real life character.

Let me introduce you to the new me.  I am Mary Cummins, wife of Orange Scott Cummins.  He sold buffalo bones in Wichita and opened the first trading post in Medicine Lodge, The Last Chance.  He was a Kit Carson looking fellow and was the first newspaper man here.  A guy from Kiowa has done oodles of research on him, portraying him.  Ironically, he probably will only be available when I am gone on Saturday, so Cliff can relax that I won’t skip town with a smooth talkin’ bone trader.

So as I write this, I have Medicine Lodge books, scattered on my couch and hope to catch my pretend husband by phone and learn more about ‘me’.   I can’t help but admit that while I was excited by being a part of the story, I am now hanging off the ceiling because ‘I’ have an actual unique indenity.

So, if you happen to come to the Lodge for the weekend, be sure and keep your eye out for me.  How can one sit still with so much going on? I may not look quite the same, but if you holler “Kelly’, eventhough I’m supposed to be “Mary’, I bet I’ll still answer you.  I’m kind of partial to me.  The reality is that after the long weekend, the dress will go back in the closet and my Miss Kitty hair will go back in a bag.  I’ll still be intrigued with Mary Cummins, but I know who my identity is in and there is nothing I would trade Him for.

For He chose us before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.  In love he predestined us to adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will.  Ephesians 1:4