By Kimberly Hunter
Note: Kimberly Hunter, of the Eliza B. Conley House of Resilience, a Mennonite/Catholic Worker House in KC, KS, on Sept. 4 walked with Charles Carney, who invites accompaniment on his Wichita-to-KC Bob Lavelle Memorial Peace Walk.
Today we walked 9 miles east, through the homeland of the Kaáⁿze people, beginning at the Flint Hills Nature Trailhead in Bushong and ending just west of Admire. Along the way we encountered a few cyclists, families, walkers, rabbits, horses, cattle, and a dog. We also enjoyed the native plants that lined our path, from cottonwoods, burr oaks, goldenrod, maximilian sunflowers, milkweed, sumac, and thistles bobbing in the breeze, to lamb’s ear and poppy mallows closer to the earth.
As Charles shared about the sunflowers’ nuclear healing powers as hyperaccumulators, I thought about the wise ways of the Kaáⁿze people who’ve called these hills home for centuries and how they invite us to walk Earth with them at Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park, just 11 walking miles west on the trail from where we started today.
And as we began to feel hungry near the end of the walk, I thought about how White, self-proclaimed Christians forced the Kaáⁿze under Chief Alíⁿk’awaho (Allegawaho) to leave these hills in 1867, how there were no provisions for them when they finally arrived in Oklahoma, and how despite that violent genocide that reduced their population to 90, today they are over 3,000 people strong, and STILL most Kansans have no idea our beautiful sunflower state is named for them. That, beloveds, is also a violence we must name and repair, if we desire peace and healing. ? Sources: