Installed in 1938 on the lobby walls of the Neodesha Post Office is a WPA mural entitled “Neodesha’s First Inhabitants” painted by Bernard Steffen. The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because because this mural is one of a limited number of artist works that were commissioned in the depression era by the WPA to keep our country’s cultural talents employed during the financial crisis.
Steffen painted this on four masonite panels instead of canvas. The setting of the mural is staged about where 4th street now runs. The mural depicts the friendly relations between the Osage Indians of southeastern Kansas and the early white settlers. On the right side of the panels, Chief Little Bear waves to Dr. T. Blakeslee, a physician responsible for much of the peacefulness between the two cultures. Little Bear’s wife and daughter stand behind him. Blakeslee, mounted on horseback, waves back. On the left side of the panels, the Indian tribe works busily in front of their teepees, carving canoes, making pots, tanning hides, drying meats, and carrying wood. A field of grain grows close to the left corner of the panel. Tows of corn slope down the rolling hills toward the white settlement. rn