This website concerns: African American history -- especially historic and current connections with Native Americans-- and social history of the American Mid-West, family history, and commemorating Kansas history.



October 31, 2015 -- 10 am - 2:30pm
Metropolitan Baptist Church, 853 Washington Blvd. KC, Kansas
(This forum is co-sponsored by the Kansas Humanities Council)


Ms. Angela Bates:
“The Nicodemus Connection to a Vice President."
For the KHC press-release regarding this presentation: click here

Gordon Parks: by Mr.Charles McAfee, Architect
Quindaro, KS: by Ms. Nedra Bonds, Artist & Educator
Humboldt, KS families: by Dr. Willard R. Johnson, retired Professor, MIT
NorthEast Kansas Ciity, KS: by Rev. Robert L. Baynham,


November 14, 2015 ----- 12noon – 4 pm
Kansas African American Museum
601 N. Water St. Wichita, KS

The Brown Family: by Ms. Shelia Brown-Kinnard, Educator
The Sims Family: by Mr. Charles McAfee
The Sexton Family: by Dr. Eric Sexton, V.P. Wichita State Univ.
Some Humboldt KS families: by Dr. Willard R. Johnson, retired Professor, MIT .
Lunch will be available at each forum at a minimal cost

Please RSVP for either forum by email to:, or; or



NEW VIDEO (added in 2014) of the Humboldt, Kansas ceremony from June, 2000, commemorating "THE GREAT ESCAPE" of Indians and Blacks over "The Trail of Blood on Ice" from "Indian Territory" (now Oklahoma) to Kansas. This 1861/2 flight was led by the Muskogee leader Opothleyahola and reflected  a "comrades in arms" collaboration  between many thousands of Native Americans and hundreds of African Americans to escape slavery and/or the Confederacy.

 Click here for the introduction to our DVD on the complete ceremony. Please note that all the video footage on this ceremony is under copyright protection by the KIAANAFH and may not legally be reproduced without our permission. Click HERE for video footage of the opening of the ceremony and the speech by the Muskogee Creek Indian Nation's Principal Chief, Mr. R. Perry Beaver, and the first half of the presensation by KIAANAFH President Prof. Willard R Johnson. CLICK HERE for the completion of Johnson's presentation, and other speakers about the experience of the refugees.
CLICK HERE for PART THREE to continue the presentations by descendants of the refugees and of some of the principal figures in the story of the Great Escape.

CLICK HERE for PART FOUR to complete the presentations by descendants, including direct descendants of Opothleyahola and other leaders of that time. (See near the very bottom of this web page for more material on this event.)



video -- Concepts of citizenship relevant to Blacks with Indians
(This 2 hour panel from February 2011 at M.I.T. incluudes a 20+ minute talk by Willard R. Johnson --- after starting the video, move the location mark to start at 1hr 17 minutes.)



“Out of the shadows:
Notable African American families
and sites of Mid-America”

Saturday, August 25, 2012 -- 10am to 2pm

at The Black Archives of Mid-America
1722 E. 17th Terrace, Kansas City, MO 64108

Sponsored by The KIAANAFH (with partial support by FFNHA, the Black Archives of Mid-America,
and the M.I.T. Political Science Dept.)


The stories we discussed concerned the families in the Kansas and Missouri area that settled here before 1950.
We hope to help our children and grandchildren take pride in their family’s heritage.
We aim to bring prominence to our stories by making them known to the thousands of tourists who, in coming years,
will visit the U.S. National Park Service’s project called Freedom’s Frontier National Heritage Area (FFNHA).

We discussed important but still all too little known places and people in KS/MO history, such as:
o Dr. George Washington Carver: scientist, educator, inventor, artist, born in MO, product of KS education.
o Sarah Rector: the richest Black woman in the US, perhaps the world of her time, who was a resident of KC.
o Bishop John Andrew Greg: who was a noted educator, U.S. diplomat, AME church leader, resident of KC, KS.
o Melvin B. Tolson: educator, labor organizer, civic leader, coach of the famous “Great Debaters,” resident of KC, MO.
o Polly Crossilin: Black Seminole/Creek Indian founder of the Colored Church (Poplar Grove) of Humboldt, KS.
o The role Sumner High School of Kansas City in producing many African American leaders.
o Contributions of the region's African American women's clubs and organizations.
o The contributions of the early local African American churches.
o Stories and sites introduced by the participants.

Speakers included:
Ms. Julie McPike, Project Coordinator, FFNHA
Mr. Chester Owens, former member of KC, KS City Council
Mr. Robert Farnsworth, historian and biographer of Melvin B. Tolson
Dr. Doretha Williams, Executive Director of the Black Archives of Mid-America
Ms. Geraldlyn Sanders, Assistant to the President of the KC Art Institute, activist in M.A.G.I.C., KIAANAFH Board
Dr. Khadijah Matin, former National President Afro-American Historical and Genealogical Society, KIAANAFH Board
Rev. Robert L. Baynham, Pastor of the Metropolitan Baptist Temple in KC, KS, KIAANAFH Vice President
Dr. Willard R. Johnson, retired Professor of Political Science at MIT and KIAANAFH President
Ms. Edith Walker, math teacher at the Commonwealth School in Boston, KIAANAFH Treasurer
Ms. Deborah Tucker, retired librarian, Wayne State University, KIAANAFH Board


For "YouTube" based VIDEOS of this forum click on the following links.

Click here for the first 4 presentations --the Forum Introduction by Dr. Khadijah Matin, the explanation of the FFNHA project by Ms. Julie McPike, the introduction to Sarah Rector story by Ms. Geraldlyn Sanders, and discussions by Mr. Chester Owens of AME Bishop Gregg, and the first part of the Sumner High School story.

Click here for the continuation of Mr. Owens' presentation regarding Sumner High School, followed by Robert Farnsworth on the many contributions of "The Great Debater's" coach, Melvin Tolson.

Click here for the video clip of Khadijah Matin's presentation on her Nebraska pioneer family's Kansas experience, followed by Deborah Tucker's discussion of the life and achievements of Dr. George Washington Carver, and then the first part of the presentation by Ms Doretha Williams about early women's clubs in Kansas; AND

Click here for the end of the Williams presentation on women's clubs, and the first half of the presentation by Rev. R.L. Baynham regarding the early development of Black churches in Kansas, and click here for the rest of that presentation by Rev. Baynham;
click here for Matin's introduction of Edith Walker, and click here for Edith Walker's presentation about her pioneer family in Kansas.

For a video of the presentation and related photos regarding "Aunt Polly" Crosslin, by WRJohnson click here
To continue with a few more sites and photos relating to this presentation click here.




African Native American Genealogy Forum for all topics on Black/Indian connections, especially the recent controversies regarding restoration of historic citizenship rights for "Freedman"
Freedmen Descendants of the 5 Tribes website

"Muskogee Creek Indian Freedmen Band" organization
-- for their 2015 Conference speakers click here

"Creek Freedman" Organization

Concepts of citizenship relevant to Blacks and Indians
(this 2 hour panel incluudes a 15 minute talk by Willard R. Johnson regarding Blacks and Indians (start the video, and to hear only Johnson's presenttion, move the location marker to 1hr 17 min mark into the video)

For current news from an Indian nations perspective, click here

National Congress of Black American Indians
launched in July 2014--- for the Indianz News article on this event, click here

The "Bleeding Kansas Heritage Area Project" has been transformed into the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area (click here for its website)-- --
(for information on ALL the Heritage Areas, click here

Black Archives of Mid-America

BLACK PAST: African American History through people and places;
see especially the vignette of Seminole Chiefs Billy Bowleg (Halpata & Sonaki Micco)

National Resources for doing genealogy on African Americans and Native Americans

AfroAmerican Historical and Genealogy Society

Afrigeneas - genealogy and history site

The Kansas African American Museum -- Wichita

Mid West Indian Center Wichita

Heart of America Indian Center KC MO

National American Indian Museum

Regarding the historic underground railroad site at the Quindaro Ruins:
listen to an interesting radio interview on the KC Currents show at KCUR (brought to our attention by Marvin S. Robinson II)

For an earlier Los Angeles Times archive article on the Quindaro Ruins site: Click here




New Book from the Author of the best selling books: Cane River, and Red River

We very seldom impose on our contacts to call attention to commercial products, however relevant they may be to the common interests of the visitors to this website. However, having read this book (and, indeed all her previous ones) and having discussed it with her throughout much of its development, and finding it truly an extraordinarily informative, moving, historically well-grounded in the available facts, and brilliantly rendered work of historical fiction – I feel confident in recommending it to our members and friends. This is a very important story about Cow Tom and his family, his close associates (such as Harry Island) and owner (Chief Yargee) . Tom and Island were among the most famous and consequential of the Black interpreters for the Creek, Seminole, and Cherokee Native American nations, during the period of the “Indian removals” and American Civil War. Such a story has ramifications for relations between many African Americans and Native Americans today. It was published by Atria Books division of Simon and Shuster, Inc.

We recommend this book to a wide range of readers - those who enjoy engrossing fiction, or a good multigenerational family story, or important but still rather overlooked aspects of American history.

You can ORDER Citizens Creek through Amazon at this webiste

or through the author's website, just click through any of the links there
(Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or an independent bookseller)

For more information, also see the website or


consider also:

by Ethel Johnson Cherry

About the author: The author was born, grew up, and was educated in Kansas. One of her three marriages was to a soldier in the US Cavalry. To live with him on assignment in the western plains she was required, and loved, to be an expert in riding horses. She had extended family ties to several of the various populations and regions about which she writes. The last decades of her long life were spent between the cities of Leavenworth, KS, and Los Angeles, CA.

Synopsis: This story is about the experiences of the Hagerman family of immigrant Germans who come from Europe to the US Mid-West in the post-Civil-War period. We are introduced to some of the patterns that permit the new immigrants to establish themselves. The entire Hagerman family has a strong sense of rectitude and fairness, but no knowledge of the history or culture of the indigenous Indians whose traditional lands they acquire as a result of the Homestead Act. They establish reasonably good working relationships with some of the Native American population of the area where they settle. Such relationships prove to be crucial to their own survival, and somewhat beneficial to a few of the Native persons who remain in the area after the main body of their tribe had been decimated, or pushed to move, or “remove,” away from the encroaching settlers.

Over the course of the three generations that the story covers, we are introduced to the hardships, the abuses, the triumphs, the drawbacks and the benefits that came with the “Americanization” of the Mid-West. This is a truly American story, however narrow and singular a slice it is of that jagged history storyline. This is not a story about race – either of the immigrants, or of their indigenous predecessors, or the occasional Black individual or family that appears in the saga. It is a story about individual character and community building.

This is an historically informed romance novel, told in an interesting fashion, with accessible language, honed craft, familiar ideas and experiences, and with real moral instruction. It is very suitable for young, as well as adult, readers.

Synopsis by Dr. Willard R. Johnson, (Editor and holder of the copyright, and nephew of the author. All royalties will go to the KIAANAFH)

Available in paperback or in e-book format from to order, click here




* Transcription of a “breakout session” panel at the 57 th Annual Session of the National Council of American Indians that focussed on "The Legacy and Future of  Black/Indian Relations."  The session was organized by former Cherokee Principal Chief Wilma Mankiller, with the assistance of Dr. Willard R. Johnson and the KIAANAFH. The transcription was rendered by Dr. Johnson and is published for posting here and in print by the KIAANAFH. Click on this link for the transcription of this NCAI session on BLACK/ INDIAN RELATIONS - TRANSCRIPT.       You may  download and print this transcription for personal, classroom,  civic organizational or other strictly non-commercial uses only. 

For an extensive bibliography and resource list developed by participants in this panel under the leadership of Chief Mankiller and Dr. Patrick Minges, click the link below.

click here for Bibliography on historic connections between African Americans and Native Americans

More regarding THE GREAT ESCAPE CEREMONY: "Tracing Trails of Blood on Ice: The Great Escape" of  Indians and Blacks into Kansas." Click the next link for text and photo material relating to the this ceremony!  (click here for estimated route of the escape)

You may order a copy of our DVD of the complete ceremony, -- $20 for members, plus $4 shipping. $30 plus shipping for non-members.

The Negro History Bulletin of Jan.-Dec. 2001 (Vol. 64) carried an article by Willard R. Johnson regarding this story . Click here for a text only copy of this individual article for non-commercial use. The whole issue containing this article and teaching guides may be purchased through the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, publications archive website:  ASAALH publication archive store

*KIAANAFH also contributed to the planning for the original "Bleeding Kansas Heritage Area" project, including the LeRoy Kansas Opothleyahola Memorial site that is part of that tour area, as part of a 4-county Heritage Tour area that was inspired by and based on the story commemorated in KIAANAFH's June 2000 "Great Escape" ceremony, called "Tracing Trails of Blood on Ice." Video footage of this entire ceremony is featured at the beginning of this webpage, above.

--- for a photograph and more information on the LeRoy site, click here---

The whole trail will be part of the Freedom's Frontier National Heritage Area mentioned above.


* Seminars/exhibitions on pioneer African American families in the Southeast Kansas area with principal funding support from the Kansas Humanities Council. 
* Round-Table discussions within the Kansas based African American communities to document the connections the various episodes of forced removal of Native American nations from the South Eastern United States during the 1830s “Trail of Tears." 
* A workshop among families that participated in the round-table programs together with experts and officials from the National Archives and Records Administration (from Washington DC and Ft. Worth TX offices) devoted to documentation for connections between the African- and Native- American peoples.

* CHEROKEE NATION CENSUS (1869/1870): transcription of a Cherokee pension census commissioned in 1869, and supervised by Capt. J. W. Craig. It records ALL known residents in the territory of The Cherokee Nation (Indian Territory/Oklahoma) including colored persons, whether citizens or not, and intruders. This census was submitted to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs in Dec. 1871 by F. E. Foster, Sp. Agent in the Pension Office. It had been lost in the National Archives since 1871. KIAANAFH members may request lookups for up to five individuals -contact Pres.

Willard R. Johnson at the address below.


The KIAANAFH is an independent, non-profit, membership organization founded in 1991 to promote the preservation, documentation and appreciation of family identity, traditions, and achievements of the members of the African American and Native American communities of the Mid-West United States.  The KIAANAFH aims to assist families with a regional base of ancestral roots and widely scattered branches, to know, preserve, strengthen and celebrate their own achievements.

The KIAANAFH was founded by persons whose parents or grandparents were/are still resident in Kansas, or whose current work is associated with the study and preservation of historical material relating to Kansas.  Many of them represent mixtures of African American and Native American descent, or have "Freedman," and/or “comrade in arms” connections with Native American peoples. Many of them are academicians, in a variety of fields, who can help identify and mobilize resources to assist families to document themselves more fully and to preserve their important memorabilia. In particular, they aim to improve the resource base for revealing and commemorating the often neglected and difficult to document aspects of African American and Native American genealogical and historical relationships.


Monetary contributions made to the KIAANAFH are tax deductible.  


 (Kansas area  ancestral base in parentheses)



Dr. Willard R. Johnson
Professor Emeritus of Political Science
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
(Humboldt - Leavenworth, KS)
see below for contact information

Rev. Robert L. Baynham, Pastor,
Metropolitan Baptist Church
Kansas City, KS
(Kansas City, MO)  


Edith Walker
Secondary School Math Teacher
(Hugoton, KS)
see below for contact information


Mr. Eric Kirkwood
College Administrator and Lecturer,
(Kansas City, KS)
see below for contact information


Mrs. Thirkelle Howard
Retired college administrator
Kansas State Univ. at Manhattan
Genealogy instructor/consultant
(Wichita, KS)

Rev. Dr. Khadijah Matin
Brooklyn, NY
(Topeka Kansas, Nebraska)

Mr. Charles F. McAfee
Architect (Wichita, KS)

Ms Geri Sanders
College administrator
(Kansas City, MO)

Ms. Deborah Tucker
retired college librarian
Adamany Undergraduate Library
Wayne State University

Ms. Demetria Wilson
Wichita State University

To join the KIAANAFH download and fill out this  form and send $25/yr to our Treasurer.
( Make checks payable to “KIAANAFH” -- plese note that contributions and membership payments are NOT tax deductible)

KIAANAFH Treasurer
Ms. Edith Walker

492 Beacon St. #76
Boston, MA 02115

for  program matters, contact:
Prof. Willard R. Johnson

(KIAANAFH President)

MIT E53-367
Cambridge, MA 02139

tel: 617 253 2952  fax 617 258 6164

for legal matters , contact:
Mr. Eric Kirkwood
(KIAANAFH Resident Agent)

2530 N. 54th St.
Kansas City, KS 66104