|Death: ||Feb. 16, 1907|
"Chief Kack-Kack of the Prairie Band Potawatomi
d. Feb. 16, 1907, age 85,
Buried 1/2 m. south of his home on Soldier Creek, west of Mayetta.
He planned the ambush of the Pawnee war party in 1850 on the Big Blue River north of Manhattan, KS.
On the 16th day of February, 1907, Kack-kack, the chief of the Prairie band, died at his home, five miles west of Mayetta. The cause of his death was old age, though he suffered from a malady of the stomach. At the time of his death he was not the chief, having been superseded by a younger man some years before.
But he was chief for many years, as his father had been before him. The two ruled the Prairie band almost a century. J. Steves, head of the mission, knew Kack-kack well, and said of him: "He was as good an Indian as there was on the reservation. Whatever he said you could depend on, and his word was as good as any man's note."
Kack-kack told Mr. Steves that he had scalped many Indians, but had never scalped a white man. He was a famous warrior, and had fought in three wars. He planned the ambush by which the Pottawatomies defeated the Pawnees soon after the founding of the Catholic Mission at St. Marys. He killed some of the Pawnees. The scalps he had taken in all his fighting were retained by him as long as he lived.
There is some uncertainty as to Kack-kack's age at the time of his death. The notices found do not agree. One says he was eighty-five;
Another says he was eighty-eight. The premium list of the first annual fair has a sketch of him, as well as a portrait. There it is stated that he was then seventy-nine; but he must have been older.
He was born near where Chicago was afterwards located. The sketch in the premium list says: "He is a brother-in-law of the famous Indian, Shob-nee, who was so highly honored a few years ago because of the important part he took in the Black Hawk war in defense of the white people. The town of Shobnee, Ill., is named in his honor, and at that place they have a magnificent monument erected in his memory."
The funeral of Kack-kack was probably the most elaborate in arrangement and ceremony ever held on the reservation of the Prairie band. The account of it which follows is taken from the Topeka Daily Capital of February 24, 1907:
"Probably never again will the tribe of Pottawatomies living on the tribal reservation in the south part of Jackson county have such a funeral as they gave old Kack-kack, the aged chief of the tribe who died and whose body was laid away according to the ancient tribal rites. The burial service used in his funeral is the oldest known among the Pottawatomies, and has not been employed for years.
"Kack-kack died at the age of eighty-eight years, and was at the time of his death the oldest and most noted member of his tribe. His funeral was a fitting one and in proportion to his fame. It was planned by Kack-kack before his death, and was carried out according to his wishes. It began Sunday evening, and it was Monday afternoon before the 300 or 400 attendants at the funeral left the grave.
"From the time of his death until his body was placed in a spring wagon to be taken to its grave, Kack-kack's body lay in state in one corner of a room of his home on the reservation. As soon as the breath left his body it was placed in a sitting position in a corner of the room to stiffen while the proper kind of a box was being constructed in which to bury it.
The box which served the purpose of a coffin was of new lumber and made about square and with the top side open. The best rug in the house was placed in the bottom of this box and Kack-kack's body set down on it. The body was dressed in Kack-kack's best clothes; unbeaded moccasins on his feet, leather leggins from his feet to his hips, then a gorgeous Indian beadwork belt about the lower part of his body.
The rest of his body, to the top of his head, was naked except for multi-colored and bright-hued paints on body and face and strands of Indian beads wrapped about his throat. On his head was a dark fur turban. Two long quills, each with three red bows of ribbon, projected from the top of the turban. Below the feathers was a pompon of red feathers. In the box with the body were placed Kack-kack's cane, with his name carved on it, and his bow and arrows.
"The edge of the rough board box came up to Kack-kack's chin, and in order that the head might not drop down, a piece of "two-by-four" scantling was laid across the top of the box and Kack-kack's chin placed on this. In this manner his face was kept looking straight ahead. As Kack-kack was never noted for his beauty of feature, the appearance of his head projecting from the top of the box, with the chin resting on the two-by-four and adorned with bright paints, was rather disconcerting to the few white persons who attended the funeral, although the Indians did not appear to be affected by the sight.
"All day Sunday, the day after Kack-kack's death, and while his body lay in state in this peculiar fashion in the house, members of the tribe were busy outside butchering and preparing for the big feast which was a part of the funeral ceremonies. Two of Kack-kack's hogs and ten turkeys were killed to form a basis for the feast. Sunday afternoon half of the provisions which had been procured were cooked in huge iron kettles, hogs and turkeys going into the same pot. Whole kernels of corn were poured into the big pots, which were kept boiling for hours. Inside the house the squaws made squaw bread--a famous Indian delicacy. This is made much like ordinary biscuits, only no shortening is mixed into the dough. A great deal of baking powder is used, and then the dough is rolled out thin and dropped into kettles of sizzling fat to cook. It swelled enormously, from a thickness of several sheets of paper to several inches. This was broken into pieces and piled on the table which another set of squaws had been 'setting' during the culinary operations.
"The tables consisted merely of tablecloths, not overly clean, which were spread on the floor of two rooms of the Kack-kack home, including the room in which the old chief reposed in state. The four old squaws who superintended the cooking of the meat in the big kettles in the yard dished up the contents of the pots into big dishpans, which were carried into the house and placed at the ends of the two tables when all was ready for the feast. It took five hours to prepare this feast.
In addition to the meats and Indian bread, the bill of fare for the feast included pies and cakes, canned blackberries, dried peaches, tea and coffee--an elaborate feast for the Indians. To be sure, the cooking was not such as the average careful American housewife would allow in her kitchen, and the dirt did not act as an appetizer for the white persons present, but they sat down to the table with the Indians, who would have been greatly offended had they refused to partake of the feast.
"When the tables were set and the food placed on them the Indians were summoned to partake of the feast. The table in the room in which Kack-kack's body rested was for the braves, and the other table for the squaws. On account of the number which attended the funeral, not all could eat at once, and it was necessary to feed them in relays.
"Before a bite was taken an old Pottawatomie at the men's table arose, removed his hat, crossed his hands over his breast, and then with bowed head spoke in the language of the tribe. He delivered a prayer to the Great Spirit, which action corresponded with the Christian custom of rendering thanks before eating. According to some of the educated Indians who translated the old man's prayer for the benefit of the white people present, he addressed Kack-kack, telling the dead chief that they were gathered in his house to eat his bread for the last time.
Then he eulogized the dead chief and exhorted the other Indians to be braves and model their actions after the honorable deeds of the great chief. During this prayer the peace pipe was passed around the table and every brave solemnly took three whiffs from it. The old Indian who was praying did not cease until the peace pipe had made the complete circuit of the table.
The ceremony was repeated each time the table was filled and before the Indians began eating. They ate in silence, not a word being spoken at the tables after the old Indian who acted as master of ceremonies had finished his prayer, while old Kack-kack stared solemnly down on the assemblage from his box. While the guests were eating, Mrs. Kack-kack, herself well along in years, moved among her guests and was as solicitous for their welfare as the most hospitable American woman could have been.
"During the usual Indian funeral the drums are beaten from the time the feasting begins until the body is laid away. But according to Kack-kack's wishes, and the details of the funeral service used for him, not a drum was beaten.
"Monday morning the kettles were placed over the fires again, and another big feast prepared from what was left over from the day before. This feast was eaten in the same manner as the one the night before.
"At the conclusion of Monday's feast a spring wagon was backed up to the door of the Kack-kack home and four braves carried out the box containing all that was mortal of the old chief. The box was still uncovered, and was placed in the wagon with the upper part of Kack- kack's body bare and the chin resting on the piece of two-by-four. A peaked roof to fit the box was placed in the wagon beside the box, but not on it, and the procession to the grave, which was in Kack-kack's front yard and about half a block distant from the house, was begun.
Following the wagon was Mrs. Kack-kack, the members of the family, down to great- grandchildren and friends of the family. All of Kack-kack's personal belongings were carried in the procession in big packs and bundles which were borne on the backs of members of the family and friends.
"The grave consisted of a depression only about a foot deep, in which the base of Kack- kack's box coffin was placed. The hole was merely for the purpose of steadying the box, and not to bury the body in. The box was set into the shallow depression, with the old chief's face still looking steadily ahead and his chin resting on the beam across the top of the box. Before the cover was placed on the box the widow placed a bright red shawl and a silk handkerchief in the box to keep the old chief warm on his long journey. Then the peaked lid was placed over the box and nailed fast. Two or three holes were then bored in the ends of the box so that Kack-kack could get plenty of air, as though he had not had all the air he wanted while on his way to the grave.
"A stick was driven into the ground near the box, Indian hieroglyphics were painted on the stick, and its top smeared with red paint. Then the funeral orations were begun. The old Indian who acted as master of ceremonies was the principal speaker, and grew eloquent, in the Pottawatomie tongue, in singing the praises of his dead friend, with whom he had stood in battles years ago. The old Indian pointed with a stick to where Kack-kack stood in certain battles; also where the speaker himself stood, and also where other famous men of the tribe, living and dead, had fought. Others of the few surviving old braves of the tribe followed the first speaker, using the same stick to emphasize their remarks.
"When the speeches were finished the bundles of Kack-kack's belongings were opened and everything he possessed was given away. The aged Indian orator addressed Kack-kack before the distribution was commenced and told the dead chief what they were about to do. But he told the dead man not to feel badly about it, as all his things would be given to his friends. Mrs. Kack-kack personally superintended the distribution of the gifts.
Kack-kack's pony was given to the old Indian who had acted as master of ceremonies and delivered the principal eulogy to the dead man. The same Indian also received the dead brave's scalps which he had taken in battle, his beads, and a big bundle of the choicest gifts. The grave diggers who had dug the shallow hole in which the box was set, with most of it projecting from the ground, received the bedclothes that Kack-kack had died on. The Indian who nailed the lid on the box received all of Kack-kack's tobacco.
"When the speeches were completed and the gifts distributed two of the big iron kettles were brought from the house to the grave, where another feast was partaken of, after which all dispersed.
"The service at the grave continued just two hours. From the beginning of the funeral service on Sunday until its conclusion Monday afternoon no whisky was drunk by the Indians, many of whom are confirmed drunkards. All were reverent and respectful.
"Only a scant handful of whites attended the funeral, although Kack-kack was widely known. Among them were Mr. and Mrs. J. C. Steves who have charge of the mission on the Pottawatomie reservation, and Mrs. Frank Cope who was the only person to go up from Topeka for the funeral. Mrs. Cope was instrumental in building the mission church on the reservation, and was quite friendly with old Kack-kack during the later years of his life."
(KHC v.14, p.545-49)
Specifically: Soldier Creek
Created by: Bev
Record added: Sep 26, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 77094976
Added: May. 6, 2016
Added: Jan. 14, 2014
Added: Sep. 25, 2012