Fort receives grant to celebrate Native Americans

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

The Fort Scott National Historic Site and a related support organization have received a grant to help celebrate the contributions of Native Americans in Kansas, including Fort Scott.

The Friends of the Fort Scott National Historic Site, Inc., in partnership with the historic site, recently received a $5,000 Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area Interpretive Grant for Native Neighbors programming, according to a news release.

"It's a great partnership," FSNHS Chief of Interpretation and Resource Management Holly Baker said. "We're bringing these different entities together to make it happen."

The grant funding will allow the Friends group and the FSNHS to host a Native Neighbors event Oct. 22 celebrating the American Indian tribes that contributed to the history and culture of Kansas. Fifteen tribes, Haskell Indian Nations University and the Heart of America and Mid-America Indian Centers have been invited to share with visitors through storytelling, dance, music, traditional folkways, history and other presentations, the release said.

"It's an initiative from Freedom's Frontier to get more programs done in the area to recognize the Native American contribution to the area," Friends of the FSNHS President Reed Hartford said.

"Part of the story we've told throughout my time around the fort is around the issue of Native Neighbors," he said. "It's one of the original purposes for Fort Scott being here, to maintain permanent Indian territory and to preserve the peace between some indigenous tribes and the tribes that moved in during the removal act. Native tribes have been an important part of Fort Scott since the beginning."

Baker said the event is designed to be "fun" and "activity-based," with possibly some educational elements. It's expected to include presentations, storytelling, dances, music, craft demonstrations and other activities.

"The partnership between the fort and the heritage area allows us to pay for travel costs and for an honorarium for these tribes to come to do the presentations and other activities," she said. "It's (the event) for folks to experience the culture of our Native Neighbors."

The Freedom's Frontier Interpretive Grant program started in 2012. Since then, more than 48 projects have been awarded grant funding. Grant projects have been completed on both sides of the Missouri-Kansas border in the 41-county two-state region that comprises the heritage area, the release said.

Projects awarded grant funding must interpret local history and connect to one or more of the three major themes of the heritage area: the shaping of the frontier, the Missouri-Kansas Border War, and the enduring struggle for freedom. The amount of the grants range from under $1,500 to $5,000. All awards more than $1,500 require the recipient show a local match of half the amount of the award. The match can be in the form of cash or in-kind donations and staff and volunteer time, the release said.

Hartford said most of the match for the local grant will be "in-kind participation and staffing," with the Friends organization picking up any remaining cash for the match.

The Friends of the FSNHS is a nonprofit organization established in 2010 to support the fort through volunteerism, advocacy and fundraising. The group is "proud to partner with Freedom's Frontier and Fort Scott National Historic Site on this exciting project," the release said.

"We try to advertise events at the fort they can't spend federal money for," Hartford said. "We support events at the fort."

Some of the events the Friends organization is involved with include an ice cream gathering at the fort around the Fourth of July, and a reception hosted by the organization at the end of the historic site's annual Candlelight Tour in December.

"We're grateful for the support from the Friends organization," Baker said. "They help with some of these matching grant opportunities. As funds do dwindle, we're always looking for ways to collaborate."