Category Archives: History Classroom

Path of the Shawnee

Living in Johnson County, Kansas, we see the name Shawnee all around us. Schools, streets, newspapers, neighborhoods and cities adorn the name. Our county’s namesake, Thomas Johnson, ran the Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission. The Shawnee were not originally from this area, so we pay our respect this Native American Heritage Month by taking a look at the path that led them to Kansas. It was not what we would call a voluntary path by any means.

According to the Shawnee Tribe’s official website, Shawnee are an Eastern Woodlands tribe. In Sauk, Fox and many other Algonkian languages the name for the Shawnee, Shawunogi, and its variants means “Southerners.” Before being forced west by European encroachment, the Shawnee lived in areas that include Ohio, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Tennessee and South Carolina.


Tenskwatawa, a Shawnee who was strongly opposed to Indian removal and brother to the legendary Tecumsah. He was forcibly relocated from Ohio to Kansas. Image courtesy of the Kansas History Society.

In 1793, the Shawnee received a Spanish land grant near Cape Girardeau, Missouri and a large group of Shawnee headed west for that land. After the Louisiana Purchase, that land became property of the United States government. This prompted some of the Shawnee to leave and head even further west to Texas and Old Mexico. They are known as the Absentee Shawnee Tribe, and they later moved to Oklahoma.

For the Shawnee remaining in Ohio, the Treaty of Fort Meigs granted them three reservations in 1817. By 1824, there were 1,383 Shawnee left in Missouri and about 800 in Ohio.


Spanish Land Grant map from 1793. Courtesy of the Shawnee Tribe.

Not long after 1824, the Missouri and Ohio Shawnee would find themselves being forced out of their homes and onto 1.6 million-acres in eastern Kansas, part of which is now Johnson County. Relocation of the Ohio and Missouri Shawnee started in 1826. To begin cultural assimilation, missionaries were setup throughout the Kansas reservation, one being the Shawnee Indian Methodist Mission located in present day Fairway.


Girls at the Shawnee Indian Mission School. Photo Courtesy of KSHS.

By the late 1860s, the Shawnee would once again find themselves compelled to leave their home for several reasons. The 1.6 million-acre reservation had been decimated to 160,000 acres by the U.S. government after the Kansas-Nebraska Act. The Shawnee were also antagonized by the settlers coming into Kansas during and after the Civil War. The Shawnee and Cherokee Nation were then forced into an agreement by the U.S. government allowing the Shawnee land and citizenship in the Cherokee Nation reservation in Oklahoma. It was not until the Shawnee Tribe Status Act of 2000 that the Shawnee Tribe was restored to its position as a sovereign Indian nation.

We didn’t address the fascinating history of Indian removal resistance that took place in Ohio or the Shawnee involvement in the War of 1812. Perhaps we can look into that another time.

-Beth Edson, Johnson County Library


Howard, James. (1981). Shawnee!: The ceremonialism of a native Indian tribe and its cultural background. Ohio University Press: Athens.  

Kansas State Historical Society. Shawnee Indians. Retrieved from:

The Shawnee Tribe. History. Retrieved from:



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A Brief History of the 6 by 6 Program at the Johnson County Library


6 by 6 illustrations by Brad Sneed

Happy 6th birthday, 6 by 6! The Johnson County Library introduced its “6 by 6, Ready to Read: Six Skills by Six Years” early literacy program in September 2009, which has become a huge success. In 2012, the state of Kansas adopted it as its early literacy program.  Now 80% of Kansas libraries are using 6 by 6 in some way, and it is available for use by all Kansas libraries.  The 6 by 6 program emphasizes the six skills that parents and caregivers can help children develop before they learn to read.  The six skills are: Have Fun with Books; Notice Print All Around You; Talk, Talk, Talk; Tell Stories about Everything; Look for Letters Everywhere; Take Time to Rhyme, Sing and Play Word Games. These areas are based on the skills identified in the Every Child Ready to Read program developed by The Public Library Association’s Early Literacy Project in partnership with the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.


Books to Go bags contain 5 books, 1 CD + book and 1 DVD that share the same theme.

Kasey Riley, Johnson County Library director of communication at the time, pushed for a like program to begin at the Library, one that would be unique and position the Library as early literacy leaders in the community.  “Let’s make this our own,” she said, and so 6 by 6 had begun.  The county librarian Donna Lauffer was a big supporter of this initiative, so it became a part of the strategic plan.   A committee was formed with Kathy McLellan, youth outreach librarian, spearheading the project.  Her perseverance and dedication proved a valuable asset.  Erin Howerton suggested the 6 by 6 name, and the committee approved.  Riley then reached out to Brad Sneed, a well-respected artist, and asked if he would consider doing the artwork to help promote the new program.

After months of organizing, talks and discussions, 6 by 6, Ready to Read was ready to go!  The Antioch Library was the first location to pilot the new program.  A Burgeon Group activity station was purchased with a grant from the Kansas Health Foundation, and the Youth Services space was redesigned to accommodate this interactive learning center.  Signs and posters were created for each location to promote the program. On Tuesday, September 15, 2009, a grand opening reception commenced with a ribbon cutting, Kindergarten readiness screenings, a presentation from 6 by 6 illustrator Brad Sneed, a concert by a local children’s musician and tours.

In 2012 Bradley Debrick, early literacy coordinating librarian, took over the running of 6 by 6.  He leads a select group of staff members called the 6 by 6 Cadre who create  booklists, maintain the Library’s popular Books To Go circulating bags and constantly develop new activities to be used in the branches. All 13 branches have early literacy activity spaces where parents can interact with their children — and the 6 by 6 skills — whenever the Library is open.

To commemorate the program’s sixth anniversary in 2015, the Johnson County Library has prepared quite a birthday celebration. This fun program will surely have a lasting effect for generations of Johnson County residents to come. Happy birthday, 6 by 6!

-Terri Bostic, Johnson County Library

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We have curriculum guides!

The Education staff at the Johnson County Museum created a series of guides to provide teachers and educators resources to build lesson plans using content on the JoCoHistory Web site. Each guide has an overview, list of the standards met by using the curriculum, and activities including worksheets.

Go to curriculum guides now ».

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Filed under History Classroom

We Have Curriculum Guides!

The Education staff at the Johnson County Museum created a series of guides to provide teachers and educators resources to build lesson plans using content on the JoCoHistory Web site. Each guide has an overview, list of the standards met by using the curriculum, and activities including worksheets. Go to curriculum guides now.

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Filed under History Classroom