Kansas history expert Ron Parks from Manhattan will be the guest speaker at 7:30 p.m. Monday, July 27, at the Barton County Historical Society Museum, located just south of the Arkansas River on U.S. 281, Great Bend. This program is free and open to the public.
This will be a joint presentation of the Historical Society and of the Quivira Chapter of the Santa Fe Trail Association. It is also the Historical Society’s regular monthly meeting.
Parks will read a few pages from chapter five of his recently published book, “The Darkest Period: The Kanza Indians and Their Last Homeland, 1846-1873.” This section of the book describes the three Kanza villages, the clan system, dwellings, Kanza names for nearby streams, ways in which the tribe related to their richly variable homeland on the central plains, and the U.S. government’s imposition of a linear grid on the Kanza Reservation in the form of land allotments which served as a symbolic means of rationalizing the conquest of the land and its natives.
Parks will also provide a brief commentary about the section he reads and the process of writing the book.
A fifth-generation Kansan, Ron Parks grew up in Minneapolis, Kan., where he graduated from high school in 1967. He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English at Kansas State University in 1972. He began employment with the Kansas State Historical Society in 1981 as assistant director of the Fort Hays State Historic Site, where he served as director from 1982 through 1988. He was executive director of the Kansas Eisenhower Centennial Commission from 1988 through the completion of the centennial in October 1990.
Parks, who retired in 2004, also served as director of the Kaw Mission State Historic Site in Council Grove and assistant director of the Society’s Historic Sites Division in Topeka.
Published by the University of Oklahoma Press in 2014, “The Darkest Period” recently won both the 2014 Prairie Heritage Book Award for the best book about the heritage of the Great Plains and the Santa Fe Trail Association’s Louis Barry Writing Award for the best book or major article about the Santa Fe Trail.