A September tradition in southern Kansas that celebrates 300 years of the state’s history might become history itself after this year’s event because of a lack of money and volunteers, organizers said.
The Medicine Lodge Indian Peace Treaty Pageant has drawn thousands of people to the south-central town where the pageant has been held every three to five years since it began in 1927.
But it requires help from nearly all the town’s 2,300 residents and interest in participating has dropped in recent years, The Wichita Eagle reported Monday.
The pageant, held in a natural amphitheater, typically draws between 10,000 and 15,000 visitors from Kansas and across the nation. This year’s will be the 23rd pageant.
The focus is a re-enactment of the signing of an 1867 treaty that was supposed to make traveling safer for those heading to frontier settlements in the West. It’s also one of the largest gatherings of Plains Indians — 15,000 Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, Apache and Cheyenne.
“It is with great sadness that possibly this will be our last one,” wrote Robert Larson, one of the pageant’s board members, in an email to The Eagle. “It has become difficult to get community support and financial assistance to continue this wonderful event, as you probably know once you lose something like this it is almost impossible for a small community to get it back.”
Sara Whelan, the president of the Medicine Lodge Peace Treaty Pageant, said board members voted to resign after this year’s Sept. 23-25 pageant. A community meeting will be held to determine the pageant’s future. Whelan said if new people volunteer to organize the festival, it will continue.
The pageant focuses on 300 years of Kansas and American history, including the Spanish conquistadors who came to the area in the 1500s, frontiersmen, the Lewis and Clark expedition and Indians on horseback.