During the evening of September 9, 1878, Little Wolf and Dull Knife led the Northern Cheyenne from their camp. Frontier military were dispatched to return the fleeing Cheyenne. Lieutenant Colonel William H. Lewis eventually pursued them as commander of the Nineteenth Infantry from Fort Dodge, Kansas. After camping near the Dry Lake area in present-day southeastern Scott County, the pursuing soldiers advanced toward Ladder Creek. The Cheyenne Indians (300 men, women, and children) decoyed 250 soldiers and one excited warrior released a shot. This was the start of the last battle between the U.S. Army and the Native Americans in the state of Kansas. During this battle Colonel Lewis was hit in the leg. Lewis bled to death while being taken to Fort Wallace. He was the last army officer in killed in military action in Kansas.
The El Cuartelejo Ruins are now centuries old. The ancient ruins hold the story of the only known pueblo in the state of Kansas. The site on which El Cuartelejo is found is owned by the Kansas Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution. Because of the rich and varied history of El Cuartelejo pueblo, the site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, also holding the status of National Landmark.
Apache Indians were the earliest Native Americans to live in the High Plains of western Kansas after arrival of Europeans in North America. The Spanish of New Mexico referred to the natives who lived in western Kansas in the 17th and early 18th century as the Cuartelejo Apache. (Note: The Spanish spelling of the name uses the letter "C", as in Cuartelejo. The anglicized spelling is Quartelejo.)
The first Euro-American settlers in Scott County reportedly found irrigation ditches in Ladder Creek valley. The earlier Pueblo refugees, also known as the Cuartelejo Apache, may have built and used these channels to water their gardens. The El Cuartelejo pueblo was abandoned in approximately A.D. 1706, or by some accounts, somewhere near A.D. 1719. These ruins were discovered in 1898 by an early Scott County pioneer, Herb Steele. The El Cuartelejo pueblo was built by the Pueblo Indians and is the northernmost pueblo ruin found in the United States. The term "El Cuartelejo" has the meaning “barracks” in the Spanish.
Read more: El Cuartelejo: High Plains Laws and Identity
Travel to the place where the last Indian battle in Kansas was fought. Punished Woman's Fork is approximately one mile South of Lake Scott State Park along Highway 95. A monument overlooks the cave, canyon, and bluffs where the Northern Cheyenne hid, waiting to ambush the United States Cavalry.
In the battle that ensued, Commanding officer Lieutenant Colonel William H. Lewis was mortally wounded. He became the last officer killed in military action in the state of Kansas. After the battle, the Northern Cheyenne fled during the night.
This area has been designated a State and National Historic Site.