The Great Plains region was periodically inhabited by various Indian peoples as early as 10,000 years ago. These prehistoric Indians were nomadic hunters. The first people to live in permanent villages appeared around 1200 A.D . They hunted, fished, and farmed. At the time of European exploration in the 16th century, there were only small numbers of Indians living in what is now Kansas. The major tribes were the Kansa, Osage, Wichita, and Pawnee.

Important dates in Kansas
1541 The Spanish explorer Francisco Vásquez de Coronado entered Kansas.
1803 Kansas became United States territory as a part of the Louisiana Purchase.
1821 William Becknell established the Santa Fe Trail.
1827 Colonel Henry Leavenworth built Fort Leavenworth.
1850's Fighting over the slavery issue gave the region the nickname “Bleeding Kansas.”
1854 Congress established the Territory of Kansas.
1861 Kansas became the 34th state on January 29.
1870's Mennonite immigrants from Russia planted and raised the first Turkey Red wheat in Kansas.
1894 Kansas oil and gas fields began producing.
1905 The country's first helium was found near Dexter.
1934-1935 Dust storms damaged great areas of Kansas farmland.
1952-1957 Kansas had its driest five-year period.
1962 The Legislature ordered consolidation of small school districts into larger, unified districts.
1972 Terms for governor and other top state offices were increased from two to four years, effective in 1975.
1986 Kansas voters approved a state lottery.
1991-1995 Joan Finney served as governor of Kansas. She was the first woman elected to the office.