Archive for Thursday, December 9, 2004

Teepees attract attention to Basehor ranch

December 9, 2004

When an intrigued onlooker stops in to the BJB Ranch just outside Basehor to ask about the totem pole and teepees perched on the property, owner Bill Beaver usually gives the curious folks the same jesting response.

"Once in a while someone will drive down and want to know," said Beaver, who has lived with his wife, June, at the couple's home seated at the corner of Parallel Road and Kansas Highway 7 since 1997.

"I jokingly tell everybody I'm going to start an Indian bed and breakfast."

Truth is, there isn't any particular reason why the totem pole and two American Indian-style teepees are at the Beavers' ranch. Some friends in Colorado had teepees at their homes, Beaver said, and he simply brought the idea back home with him to Kansas.

At first, there was but one teepee and the totem pole. However, Beaver soon found out "one totem pole and one teepee just didn't look right," so another piece was added to the reservation. The pieces have been standing on the property for three or four years, Beaver said.

"It's a novelty is all," he said. "My wife and grandkids really get a kick out of it."

The teepees are 14 to 16 feet tall and "pretty much a representation of what the real Indians used," Beaver said. And, if that's the case, Beaver's teepees only reinforce the notion that Native American tribes could move stealthily and frequently without much effort.

More than a dozen lodge poles are used to construct the teepees' skeletons. The poles rest atop the ground, are spread at the base and fastened together at the top. A rope from the top is tied to the center of the teepee inside and anchors it to the ground.

"It's a pretty simple procedure when you see people do it," Beaver said.

And if you think the construction of the teepees doesn't sound sturdy, know that the Beavers' teepees have stood year-round for several years and have remained unscathed by some extremely mean bouts of Kansas weather.

"They've withstood some pretty good winds," Beaver said.

While many - grandchildren, students on tours and strangers alike - are interested in the Beaver's teepees, no one has yet to brave a night inside one. Well, almost no one. Beaver said the only tenants of the teepees were a few head of his cattle that got loose one night, and apparently they found life indoors suitable.

"They thought it was great fun to get inside and jump around and everything," he said.

Beaver said he was not yet satisfied with his "reservation" and planned to add more pieces in coming years. He's considering another totem pole and trying to find a covered wagon to place near the teepees.

One thing that won't ever change is the reservation moving onto another spread. They'll stay a part of the ranch - "as long as I'm around, anyhow," Beaver said.

And, just like their implementation, there's not much behind the reason why.

"When you get older, you find things you enjoy get more and more important."

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