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