Lucy Tayiah Eads was the first female elected Chief of the Kaw tribe in 1922. She was also a nurse, a mother of nine, and a representative to the U.S. government for her tribe. She served as Chief until 1934.
Pauline Sharp, granddaughter of Lucy Tayiah Eads, will portray her grandmother in a first-person narrative at the Pony Express Museum’s inaugural lecture series, How It All Began: 7 Trails – 1 Railroad, Sunday, at 2 p.m. at the museum, 106 South 8th Street, Marysville.
“There aren’t many Native Americans doing a first-person historical performance,” Sharp said. “I am telling a family story about my grandma and about the Kaw people. The story must come through.”
Sharp’s performance starts in 1955, toward the end of her grandmother’s life. At that time Eads was moving from Lawrence, Kans. to Oklahoma.
“At the time this portrayal starts, I am the same age as my grandma was,” Sharp explained. “I thought that would be a good place to tell her story.”
The story unfolds as Eads is packing to move; she uncovers a hat box full of memorabilia and she starts reminiscing. The historical performance sheds light on the journey of the Kanza People and the many challenges they have endured.
Sharp says her performance Sunday will be heart-felt.
“It’s a family story,” she said. “It’s also very sad; I can’t say it’s fun.”
Sharp describes her grandmother as a very strong woman. “She was very Type A, which is not me.”
Like her grandmother, however, Sharp and Eads both have a love of the Kaw people which inspired Sharp to create a narrative to tell her grandmother’s story.
Sharp took a Native American spirituality class at Wichita State University. The professor asked the class how many knew for whom the state of Kansas was named. Other than Sharp, no one knew the state was named after the Kanza Indians, also referred to as the Kaw.
“I knew I had work to do,” Sharp explained. “People need to know that history. People in Kansas need to know the heritage, to know there are a lot of places in Kansas named after the Kaw or the Kanza Indians.”
Sharp’s performance is the first in a series of eight lectures sponsored by the Pony Express Museum. The lectures will help contextualize the founding of Marysville and Marshall County by focusing on the seven major trails and railroad that went through this area. Each lecture will be held the second Sunday of each month for eight months.
Next month’s lecture features Bob Smith talking about Military Road from Fort Leavenworth to Fort Kearney.
Refreshments will be served following the free presentation.