A Deeper Look at Native Americans and the Civil War

Chief Opothleyahola, Credit Photo as: National Archives Photo


Fort Scott National Historic Site concludes the first year of Native American Experience programming with two chapters from the Civil War in Kansas.

The first presentation, “A Shield Against the World”: Opothleyahola and the Trail of Blood on Ice Campaign in the Civil War, is by Dr. Michelle M. Martin on Saturday, November 18th, at 1 pm.

The second presentation, “Allies and Adversaries”: The role of American Indians in the Civil War west of the Mississippi River, is by Arnold W. Schofield on Sunday, November 19th, at 2 pm.

Both programs will be held in the park’s Theater on the second floor of the western Infantry Barracks.


“A Shield Against the World”: During the American Civil War the Five Southeastern Nations in the Indian Territory were divided. Pro‐Union, Pro‐Confederate, and Neutral factions developed within the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Mvskoke, and Seminole Nations. Wishing to remain neutral, Mvskoke leader Opothleyahola provided shelter to men, women, and children who wanted to stay out of the war. In the fall of 1861 Opothleyahola’s followers neared 10,000 and he led them on a desperate flight north to the safety of Union Kansas. Dr. Michelle M. Martin, an Assistant Professor of History/Coordinator of the Public History Certificate in the Department of History at Northeastern State University, will share this incredible and often misunderstood event in Native American history.


“Allies and Adversaries”: The program will be presented by retired NPS Historian Arnold W. Schofield, and its primary focus will be on the organization, recruitment and combat history of the Three Regiments of Indian Home Guards from Kansas. The program will close on an unknown aspect of the Civil War in Kansas, the Indian uprising by the plains tribes in 1864.



Dr. Michelle M. Martin is a Michigan native who made her way west after completing her BA and MA degrees in history at Western Michigan University. From 1997-2015 she lived in Fort Scott, Kansas and Bartlesville, Oklahoma where she taught history at the community college and university levels and worked as a museum professional and historical consultant to the television and film industries. While living in Kansas and Oklahoma Martin volunteered her time to various national, state, and local historic sites including Fort Scott NHS, Fort Larned NHS, Constitution Hall, Mine Creek Battlefield, and Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield. She earned her doctorate in history (and a minor in museum studies) at the University of New Mexico in 2022 with highest honors. Her dissertation was selected for the Linda Williams Reese Award from the Oklahoma Historical Society as the Outstanding Dissertation on Oklahoma History in March 2023. In August 2023 she joined the faculty in the Department of History at Northeastern State University in Tahlequah, Oklahoma. Her areas of interest include Native American history, the U.S. West from 1800-1925, Kansas history from 1854-1865, interracial marriage and family in North America, and Public History. Her current project explores interracial marriage in the Mvskoke Nation during the Indian Territorial period.


Arnold W. Schofield is a retired NPS Historian who spent much of his civilian career at Fort Scott National Historic Site. He is currently a researcher, public speaker, and traveling lecturer around the region.


Fort Scott National Historic Site’s, a unit of the National Park Service, exhibit areas and visitor center are open daily from 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. The park grounds are open daily from a half hour before sunrise until a half hour after sunset.





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