Shawnee Indian cemetery in johnson county, ks returns to Shawnee tribe

Chief Barnes and Second Chief Baldridge visit the Shawnee Indian Cemetery in Shawnee, Kansas in the fall of 2021

For Immediate Release

Press Contact:

TOPEKA, KS – Kansas Governor Laura Kelley signed Senate Bill 405, authorizing the Kansas State Historical Society (KSHS), to convey the Shawnee Indian Cemetery located in Johnson County, to the Shawnee Tribe. The 0.52 acre parcel of land is the final resting place of Shawnee personages such as Chief Joseph Parks and family members of famous general Chief Bluejacket.

“The Shawnee Tribe considers the cemetery a sacred place, a traditional cultural property,” said Chief Ben Barnes. “We are committed to protecting the gravesites of our ancestors and to the preservation and conservation of the historical, archeological character of the site.”

The Shawnee Indian Cemetery is located near Nieman Road and W 59th Terrace, in Shawnee, Kansas. Chief Barnes and Second Chief Baldridge previously met with the leadership of the City of Shawnee with plans to continue relationship-building between the Shawnee Tribe and the City of Shawnee.

“Besides being a sacred site for our people, it also signifies the general location of our last true home,” said Second Chief Roy Baldridge. “We are grateful to the Kansas Legislature and the Governor’s office for the conveyance of the cemetery. We also appreciate the assistance of the Kansas Historic Preservation Office.” 

The Kansas Attorney General has reviewed and approved the deeds and conveyance. The bill states the Shawnee Tribe agrees to pay all costs related to the conveyance and grants the State a historic preservation easement that will reflect current federal preservation laws regarding properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

WATCH 7-min video highlights of SB 405

EXPLORE Kansas legislature’s history of SB 405

DOWNLOAD Chief Barnes written testimony for SB 405. 

READ “Kansas bill aims to return sacred land to Shawnee Tribe” (Fox 4 Kansas City, Feb 8, 2022) 

READ “A Visit to the Shawnee Indian Cemetery” (JoCoHistory, Oct 14, 2018) 

READ Shawnee Indian Cemetery” (, 2008) 


About the Shawnee Tribe

The Shawnee Tribe is a sovereign nation of more than 3,700 citizens living across North America and abroad. Tribal headquarters are located in Miami, Oklahoma. Chief Benjamin J. Barnes was elected in 2019, and Second Chief Roy Baldridge took office in 2020. The Shawnee Tribe’s Kansas reservation was significantly reduced in 1854 and became allotted to individual Shawnee Tribal citizens by 1858, with some lands being held in common by Shawnee Tribal citizens of the Black Bob Band. However, aggression and abuse from white settlers before, during, and after the Civil War forced most Shawnees to relocate to northeastern Oklahoma. For more information, visit


More News

Oct 6, 2023


“LET’S LOOK CLOSER”  Tonya Tipton is a Shawnee citizen and has been serving as the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) in a full-time capacity for the past two years. Tonya joined the tribe’s staff as Enrollment Officer in 2016, but she also helped coordinate the tribe’s responses to the numerous requests for consultation that pour […]

Read More
Oct 6, 2023

Commemorations Planned for Ohio’s First World Heritage Site

CHILLICOTHE, Ohio – The National Park Service and the Ohio History Connection are planning multiple events to commemorate the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks being inscribed as Ohio’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site on Sept. 19. World Heritage inscription brings recognition to places of exceptional interest and value. There are only about 1,000 World Heritage Sites around […]

Read More
Sep 28, 2023

2023 Election Results

OFFICE OF THE CHIEF BUSINESS COUNCIL SEAT 1 BUSINESS COUNCIL SEAT 2 SPECIAL QUESTION Shall the monthly stipends for the Business Council Treasure and Secretary be increased to $2,100 per month and shall the At-Large Council members stipends be increase to $1,400 per month, effective October 1, 2023?

Read More
Sep 22, 2023

Shawnee Tribe Breaks Ground on Expansion at Golden Mesa Casino

$70 million project includes hotel, RV park, restaurant, larger gaming floor GUYMON, Okla. – Shawnee Tribe Chief Ben Barnes, along with tribal and local leaders and officials with Global Gaming Solutions, LLC (GGS), participated today in the official groundbreaking ceremony for a $70 million expansion of Golden Mesa Casino. The expansion project will include a […]

Read More
Aug 31, 2023

U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree Project

The 2023 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be harvested from Monongahela National Forest, which is part of the Shawnee ancestral homeland. The tribe’s THPO is teaming up with National Forest staff to ensure the Capitol Tree includes representation of the Shawnee Tribe. On Friday, September 15 at our General Council dinner & stomp festivities in […]

Read More
Aug 28, 2023

Voted Absentee ballots due to Election Committee by September 14

Early voting by absentee ballot (vote-by-mail) is offered in 2023. All voted ballots must be received by the Election Committee by 5:00 PM (Central) on the Thursday before the election, September 14. Voters may return their ballots by mail or deliver the ballot in person to the Election Committee. Any citizen participating in early or […]

Read More
Aug 23, 2023


CHIEF BEN BARNES As the celebration of Independence Day fades into the background, this is the time of year that the Business Council begins to look toward the next fiscal year and plan programming for Shawnee families. We generally have two sorts of programs: those that come from federal funding sources and those that are […]

Read More
Aug 18, 2023

Elections Act Amendment & 2023 Election Information

In February of 2023, the Shawnee Tribe Business Council approved a revision to Title 6, The Shawnee Tribe Elections Act. This amendment of…

Read More
See All News