Arrowhead Club & "Chief” Shunatona

Wichita Urban Native History Tour

Arrowhead Club & "Chief” Shunatona

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Wichita History Walk


Chief Charles Shunatona, born in 1917 on the Otoe Reservation near Red Rock, Oklahoma, was a prominent figure in both his community and beyond. Before moving to Wichita in 1941 to work for Boeing and subsequently being drafted, he attended the Chilocco Indian Boarding School. Shunatona was not only active with his tribal community, serving as a council person for the Pawnee Nation Business Council and as one of the eight Chiefs on the Nasharo Council (the leading body of the Pawnee Nation), but he also contributed significantly to broader Native American affairs, serving on the Kansas Governor's Advisory Council for Indian Affairs.

Despite facing personal challenges, including losing his sight in 1947, Shunatona's resilience and dedication to his culture were evident. He was a talented flute player and continued to create traditional regalia even after becoming blind. His commitment to sharing and preserving Native American culture led him to establish the Arrowhead Club on November 25, 1948, in Wichita. This organization, comprising Indigenous Americans from twenty-six tribes and non-Indigenous associates, aimed to honor and preserve Indigenous American life and culture. The club's name, inspired by the arrowhead's symbolism of solidity, purity, and precision, reflected the identity and values of Indigenous Americans. They met in a few places around town, including the old YMCA building at the northwest corner of 1st and Emporia.

The Arrowhead Club set forth an ambitious action plan with six goals to preserve Indigenous customs, ceremonies, lore, and arts and crafts; provide educational programs; promote unity through annual Powwows; offer support to those in need; address issues not handled by the Indian Service; and collaborate with the Indian Service. These goals aimed to bridge the social gaps faced by Indigenous Americans in Wichita and beyond.

Although the Arrowhead Club was only active for a few years, Shunatona and its members continued to promote Native American culture through hosting Powwows, Native art classes, and educational programs in collaboration with the YMCA, Boy Scouts, and other nonprofits. Shunatona organized the Ceremonials of the Drum Powwow from 1964-1970 and served on several commissions and councils, including the Kansas Governor’s Commission on Indian Affairs, the Governor’s Inter-State Indian Council, and the Wichita Centennial Indian Council.

Chief Shunatona passed away at the age of 84 in 2001, leaving behind a lasting impact on the preservation and promotion of Indigenous culture in Wichita and beyond.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Wichita Urban Native History Tour


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