Kansas Culture before History

This summer, KHC features daily posts about the speakers and topics in the Humanities catalog. Today’s featured presentation is “Kansas BC” by Donald J. Blakeslee.

This ceramic head is Kansas' oldest fired clay artifact, dating between 3550 and 3050 BCE. kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

This ceramic head is Kansas’ oldest fired clay artifact, dating between 3550 and 3050 BCE. kansasmemory.org, Kansas Historical Society, Copy and Reuse Restrictions Apply.

Kansans often share homesteading stories of their ancestors’ adventures on the Great Plains, but KHC presenter Donald Blakeslee reminds audiences of the Kansas before European settlement. “Consider what was not here: no cities, no roads, no mechanization, no domestic animals other than the dog,” says Blakeslee.

“It is easy to imagine that the small human communities that occupied Kansas for thousands of years would have existed in relative isolation, focused on hand-to-mouth existence—but nothing could be further from the truth.”

“Kansas BC” looks at Kansas in the era before Columbus. Blakeslee discusses evidence that the prehistoric inhabitants of Kansas traveled widely, even to central Mexico, and traded with the Pueblo people of the Southwest. He shows that the early people of Kansas were interested in such arcane subjects as meteors and meteorites and were part of a continent-wide intellectual tradition.

Donald Blakeslee

Donald J. Blakeslee

Donald Blakeslee is an expert on prehistoric and early historic Plains life and professor of anthropology at Wichita State University. He has done fieldwork throughout the Great Plains and is the author of four books and numerous articles in anthropology.

You can attend Donald Blakeslee’s “Kansas BC” on September 4th in Salina.  You can also bring this or one of the other presentations in the Humanities catalog to your community for FREE with a Resource Center Support Grant. It’s quick and easy! Visit the Speakers Bureau page to get started or contact Leslie Von Holten, director of programs, at leslie(at)kansashumanities.org for more information.