Symposium on Prairie and Plains Indian Bonds: Recognizing Connections and Brokenness

For thousands of years, Plains Indians relied on prairie for their food, medicine, building materials, and spirituality. Prairie also benefited from the presence of Indigenous Peoples and their frequent use of fire for purposes of hunting, creating safe places for lodging, and ritual. During an astonishingly short span of time in the 1800s, however, the presence of these people and this plant community were both vastly diminished and their bonds mostly broken.

On Saturday, April 2, 2016, the Dyck Arboretum of the Plains will host its annual spring educational symposium focused on the bonds between Native Americans and the prairie. Participants will learn about the richness of these bonds, and the events that led to their undoing. They will engage in a participatory learning experience to better understand the breaking of these bonds, and hear the first and second hand stories of native elders. Finally, they will hear a message of hope and healing as we envision a future of combining nature and culture that includes “Indigenous knowledge.”

  • 8:30 a.m. Check-in and Continental Breakfast
  • 8:50-9:00 a.m.   Introduction: Brad Guhr, Dyck Arboretum, Education Coordinator
  • 9:00-9:30 a.m.   1800s Loss of Nature and Culture: Segment from America’s Lost Landscape
  • 9:30-10:15 a.m.   Impact of 1800s Treaties: Beccy Tanner, Wichita Eagle and Wichita State University
  • 10:00-10:15 a.m.   BREAK
  • 10:15-11:45 a.m.   Bison Extermination and Prairie Destruction: Dr. Leo Oliva, Fort Hays State University
  • 11:45-12:30 p.m.   LUNCH
  • 12:30-2:00   Loss of Turtle Island – A Participatory Experience: Karin Kaufman Wall and Erica Littlewolf, Mennonite Central Committee
  • 2:00-3:30 p.m.   Indigenous People Stories: Louis Stumblingbear, Marc Brown, Linda Brown, “Grandma Bel,” and DeWitt Domebo representing Kiowa, Sioux, Choctaw, and Comanche tribes
  • 3:30-4:00 p.m.   Advancing the Rights of Mother Earth: Dr. Daniel Wildcat, Haskell Indian Nations University

Registration Fees:

$40 for arboretum members or $50 for non-members (includes a full day of presentations, breakfast, and lunch. To register, contact the Dyck Arboretum at 620-327-8127 / 177 W. Hickory, Hesston, KS or


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