Peace Treaty Festival & Pageant 2021

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Peace Treaty is much more than a festival! It’s a tradition that pays homage to the land and the people who have claimed Medicine Lodge as their own throughout the centuries. It provides an opportunity to see, feel and hear – to really experience — our history. This annual event takes place September 24-25-26th in the prairie setting of Memorial Peace Park, just east of Medicine Lodge.
The 2021 festival features the Peace Treaty Pageant, the Medicine Lodge Intertribal Powwow, a historical wild west stage show, the WRCA sanctioned Kansas Championship Ranch Rodeo, and — new this year — a rough-stock-only “Bulls & Broncs” event. Also at Memorial Peace Park will be nightly live music and dancing, children’s activities, special food, vendors, a mountain man encampment and more!
With performances each of the three days of the festival, the Peace Treaty Pageant is the principal event of the weekend. This grand scale reenactment takes place in a scenic natural amphitheater near the original site of the Great Peace Council of 1867 between the U.S. Government and the five Plains Tribes. The pageant is an invitation to watch 300 years of history unfold, and celebrates the area’s diverse heritage of Native peoples, discoverers, explorers and settlers. The scene depicting the signing of the Treaty of 1867 is performed by actual descendants of the original tribal signers of the document. Produced by the citizens of Medicine Lodge and their families, you will witness the Spanish exploration with Coronado, and watch Lewis & Clark and Zebulon Pike come alive before you. The natives (through actor portrayal), uneasy with the encroachment into their territories, must defend their beloved homelands. Real-life cowboys drive a herd of cattle, and settlers move west ahead of the impending railroads. The entrance of the lengthy wagon train into the amphitheater creates an awesome scene, but not all journeys in the covered wagons are peaceful, and the cavalry must rescue settlers from attack. Many of the actors have had family members in the pageant since the first production in 1927.
It was in 1917 that citizens of Medicine Lodge made the initial effort to commemorate the historical significance of the Treaty of Medicine Lodge, signed in 1867 by the Peace Commission of the United States Government and the five tribes of Plains Indians: the Kiowa, the Comanche, the Kiowa-Apache, the Arapaho and the Cheyenne.
World War I delayed their progress, but in 1926, a citizens’ committee secured the services of Sergeant I-See-O, a Kiowa Indian, who was also an army sergeant. As a young boy, I-See-O had attended the treaty signing in 1867 and his mission was to rediscover the site of the event. After much searching, and with the corroboration of Kiowa records, Sergeant I-See-O declared the site to be at the confluence of Elm Creek and the Medicine River, south of present-day Medicine Lodge.
The citizens’ committee decided to commemorate the event with a historical pageant. The colorful production was first presented in 1927, in the beautiful amphitheater which covers a quarter section of Kansas prairie. This arena was presented to the Peace Treaty Association by E.S. Rule of Wichita, a Barber County native. It was designated as the Memorial Peace Park.
The original pageant was written and directed by Dr. F. L. Gilson of Emporia. In the first pageant, Barber County farmers and ranchers brought their teams and wagons to town to reenact the event. The cast of characters was made up of citizens of Medicine Lodge and the surrounding vicinity – as it still is today. The first pageant went over so well that the committee voted in 1931 to do it again in 1932. The pageant was held every five years (1941 and 1947 during World War II) until 1961, the Kansas Centennial. From 1961 to 2006, the pageant was held every three years. After the 2006 pageant, the event was moved to five years so that it could be held in 2011, the Kansas Sesquicentennial. However, it is now on an every-three-years schedule. 2021 will be the 27th presentation of the pageant, and 2027 will be the 100th anniversary of the first pageant performance.
Throughout the years, other events have been added to the weekend, with the intention of offering spectators historically-based entertainment every year, whether the pageant was being performed or not.
The Medicine Lodge Intertribal Powwow features Native American dancing and competitions at the newly developed powwow grounds at Memorial Peace Park. Attending a powwow gives spectators a glimpse of Native Americans’ centuries-old traditions. The power of their tribal songs coupled with the beauty of the dancers’ regalia will leave a lasting impression. Food vendors will be on-site providing the always popular Indian tacos and fry bread. Authentic Native vendors will sell a wide selection of items including apparel, jewelry, wooden crafts, rugs, wall decorations and more.
The Kansas Championship Ranch Rodeo presents working cowboys competing in events such as team penning, stray gathering, and wild cow milking. These events are based on ranch activities that are still a part of the modern cowboy’s daily routine. With the cowboy lifestyle becoming increasingly rare, the ranch rodeo is truly a heritage event, showcasing not only human skill but also their incredibly athletic equine counterparts. Following the KCRR will be an outdoor dance with live entertainment by The Lazy Wayne band, with special guest the Gage Axline Band.
A new addition to the festival lineup in 2021 that is sure to be wildly popular is “Bulls & Broncs” on Saturday night. Delivering action-packed entertainment, top-ranked bucking bulls and broncs will test the skill and stamina of their riders. Live music by Adam Capps and an outdoor dance will follow.
No visitor to the Peace Treaty Festival should miss our Red Brick Main Street events. The Peace Treaty parade is one of the best parades in Kansas! Horses, wagons, floats, classic vehicles and more traverse through historic downtown Medicine Lodge, both Friday and Saturday mornings. Shopping at the charming Main Street shops and craft fair adds to the bustling downtown experience. Friday evening anyone may gather without a ticketed wristband and be entertained by local country artist Cynthia Rausch and three performances of the wild west Night Show stage show. Saturday evening the party continues on the red bricks with Medicine Lodge’s famous street dance featuring the regionally popular 80’s rock-band Paramount and more performances of the Night Show. The Night Show transports you back to 1884 Medicine Lodge and features live gun fights, cowboys and can-can dancers at the Red Dog Saloon, as well a reenactment of the Medicine Valley Bank robbery. The infamous Carry A. Nation makes appearances not only in the Night Show, but also around town during the weekend.
One must not leave town without a visit to the Stockade Museum and Carry Nation home. The Medicine Lodge Stockade is a replica of the structure built in 1874 to protect local citizens. Inside you will find interesting historical displays about the 1884 bank robbery, local ranching history, Peace Treaty documents and artifacts, a historic jail, and much more. The “Smith Cabin” also sits within the Stockade property and is a completely furnished 1877 pioneer cabin. Next door is the fully restored 1890 home of Carry A. Nation, an international figure known for her temperance work and passionate social activism on behalf of families affected by alcoholism. The house contains many of her belongings as well as period furnishings.
Experience a long weekend full of events, activities and history in the wide-open spaces of Medicine Lodge, Kansas. One ticket price is good for the entire weekend, granting access to all of the events at Memorial Peace Park, Red Brick Main Street and the Stockade Museum all three days. Adult tickets are $35 and children 7-17 are $15. Children 6 years old and under are free.
Advance tickets may be purchased at peacetreaty.org or on-site at various locations during the event.

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