William Mehojah is by all accounts, the last pure-blooded member of the Kaw Nation, the tribe that gave the state of Kansas its name.

William Mehojah is one of only about 2,500 people on Kaw Nation tribal rolls. Most have only a fraction of Kaw blood.

The tribe -- previously known as the Konza, Kanza or Kansa -- at one time stretched over 20 million acres across northern Kansas into Nebraska and Missouri. By 1825, westward expansion reduced that land to 2 million acres.

The tribe moved to what is now the Kansas, or Kaw, River valley in the early 1800s.

In 1873, the federal government moved the tribe to a 100,000-acre reservation in northern Oklahoma. By this time disease had reduced the number of Kaw to about 700, said JoAnn Obregon, a member of the Kaw executive council.

About 600 live on the former reservation land today.

Mehojah served in the Army during World War II, then worked for 35 years with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in Montana, the Dakotas, Idaho and Arizona, where he retired in 1976.

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