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Next museum program to look at land ownership, indigenous rights

January 5th, 2021

Pauline Sharp, right, and Florence Schloneger (photo copyright Travis Heying, The Wichita Eagle; used with permission)

Florence Schloneger and Pauline Sharp will share family stories related to land ownership, economics, education and identity, Sunday, Jan. 10 at 3 p.m. via Zoom and Facebook Live.

In 2018, Schloneger, North Newton, a retired Mennonite pastor, did something that no landowner in Kansas had apparently done before.

She gave something back to the Kanza people (also known as the Kaw Nation) after generations of broken and renegotiated treaties between them and the U.S. government.

Their presentation is the third special program connected to the traveling exhibit currently at Kauffman Museum on the Bethel College campus.

The museum has partnered with Humanities Kansas and the Smithsonian Institution to bring “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” to the area.

Before 1825, Kanza lands encompassed 20 million acres, reduced to 256,000 acres near Council Grove by 1846. The tribe was forcibly removed to Oklahoma in 1873.

Six years later, in 1879, Schloneger’s great-great-grandfather, a German Lutheran immigrant, homesteaded in the southeast corner of McPherson County, on the southern edge of what had been tribal hunting grounds.

After some of that land was sold in 2018, Schloneger gave a portion of her share of the proceeds – $10,000 – to the new Kanza Heritage Society, a nonprofit created to give settler descendants a way to respond to injustices that had benefited families like Schloneger’s while harming indigenous people.

Sharp, Wichita, is a member of the Kaw Nation and sits on the board of the Kanza Heritage Society.

To get the Zoom link for the Jan. 10 program, go to or plan to join the presentation on the museum’s Facebook page at 3 p.m. Jan. 10.

Kauffman Museum has created a companion exhibit for “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” from its own holdings.

“Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change,” the local exhibit, encourages visitors to celebrate the land where Kauffman Museum and the community are located, to honor those who have lived and worked here, and to reflect on the profound changes that have occurred over time.

“Of Land and People” introduces the First Americans who hunted and traveled along Sand Creek; ponders the changes to the prairie and the enrichment to our community brought by immigrants from Europe and Mexico; and explores the rich legacy of trails in North Newton and Newton.  

Graphics invite visitors to “Crossroads” to “Take Another Look!” at portions of Kauffman Museum’s permanent exhibits, while “Take a Walk!” encourages exploration outdoors on the North Newton trail system, with more content at eight existing “Stories Along the Trail” kiosks.

In addition, the exhibit poses questions about local foods and food producers to highlight the community’s own resources.

“Crossroads” will be at the museum through Jan. 17, while the companion exhibit, “Of Land and People: Our Community at the Crossroads of Change,” will stay open until Feb. 7, three weeks longer. 

On Jan. 30, the museum’s annual Celebrate Kansas Day! will have the theme “Cultural Crossroads: Our Stories, Our Foods,” with food trucks, local producer booths, make-it-at-home crafts and North Newton trails stations.

There will be programs via Zoom with Glen Ediger, North Newton, talking about “Mennonite ethnic foods” (11 a.m.) and Jenny Masias, Newton, Bethel instructor of Spanish, speaking on “The Immigrants Who Built Newton: One Spike at a Time” (2 p.m.).

Check the Kauffman Museum website and Facebook page for more information and updates.

“Crossroads” is touring six Kansas communities in 2020-21.

“Through a partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, Humanities Kansas is able to bring the resources of the nation’s premier cultural institution to Kansas,” said Julie Mulvihill, executive director of Humanities Kansas.

“The communities were selected because of the inspired plans provided by local organizations to use the national exhibition as a springboard to explore local stories of innovation and adaptation.”

Humanities Kansas sponsors the “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” initiative in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum on Main Street program, a one-of-a-kind cultural project that serves small towns and residents of rural communities. To learn more about the “Crossroads” statewide tour, visit

“Crossroads: Change in Rural America” has been made possible at Kauffman Museum by Humanities Kansas. “Crossroads: Change in Rural America” is part of Museum on Main Street, a collaboration between the Smithsonian Institution and State Humanities Councils nationwide. Support for Museum on Main Street has been provided by the United States Congress.

For more information about “Crossroads” and “Of Land and People,” contact Kauffman Museum, or 316-283-1612, or visit

Regular Kauffman Museum hours are Tues.-Fri. 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 1:30-4:30 p.m., closed Mondays and major holidays. Non-museum members pay a small entrance fee; the special exhibit is free on Saturdays. With ever-changing COVID protocols, please check the museum website or Facebook page or call 316-283-1612 before planning a visit.

About Bethel

As the first Mennonite college founded in North America, Bethel College celebrates a tradition of progressive Christian liberal arts education, diversity within community, and lifelong learning.