The Missouri & Kansas–Rivers of Connection & Trade

Published: April 8, 2014

Presentation by Dr. Bill Worley, Historian and Author

Wednesday, April 8, 2014
Westport Coffeehouse Theater – 4010 Pennsylvania Ave. Kansas City, MO

Click here to view a video recording and transcript of this presentation.

Prior to European contact, the Missouri and Kansas Rivers were the center of travel and commerce for the native groups that settled the area. In this presentation local historian Dr. Bill Worley focused on these networks of connection.

White PlumeUntil the late 15th century, the Missouri Valley was predominately the domain of the Missouria and Oto. As that century drew to a close, the Osage and Kansa (along with the Omaha and Ponca who moved further up the Missouri; and the Quapaw who moved downstream on the Mississippi) arrived in today’s central and western Missouri as well as eastern Kansas.

The region’s river system was central to their transportation initially, but it also proved essential to the trade networks they established among themselves before the coming of the French in the 18th century. Once the French inserted themselves into the existing trade network, the rivers became even more important highways of commerce.

While later Europeans tended to see the rivers as boundaries between territories, the native peoples clearly understood their vital role as pathways of connection and trade.

Dr. Bill Worley is a recognized authority on Kansas City Regional History as well as a seasoned performer on the Historic Chautauqua circuit. He portrays historic characters in Missouri, Kansas and around the nation.

Publications/Research – Author of several books including: J. C. Nichols and the Shaping of Kansas CityThe Plaza: First and AlwaysBeale Street: Crossroads of American MusicThe Santa Fe Trail [with Gil Rumsey]; Kansas City: Rise of a Regional Metropolis; and numerous history articles, encyclopedia & dictionary entries, and book reviews.

Click here to view a video recording and transcript of this presentation.

The Big Muddy Speakers Series in Kansas City

is hosted by these wonderful partners!

Thanks to all of our venue hosts for making this possible! Click here for a list of upcoming presentations» The Big Muddy Speaker Series is also held monthly in Rocheport and St. Charles.

Recordings of Presentations

Kansas City Digital Video has been recording Big Muddy Speaker Series presentations. These are available on their website at this link. Some contain synchronized powerpoint presentations.  Thanks Micheal Morgan and crew for putting this important archive online! The Big Muddy Speaker Series is partially funded by the Columbia Ecological Services Field Office (USFWS) and the Mo. Dept. of Conservation.


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