|This is a place
unlike any other, just ask anyone who has been here. A place with
walls that whisper, floors that creak under foot, a place with a rare
history, a patina left by time and an endless parade of characters.
It began around 1917 when a young, single woman
who was brave enough to leave her family and childhood behind in
Kansas moved west and decided to start a business. Katherine Lindsay
fashioned the original cabin after a Kansas farmhouse and named
the business she started The What Not Inn. She sold antiques, art,
and curios at the Inn, serving afternoon tea to her customers. Katherine’s
fondness for American Indian art influenced the direction the shop
would take from the very beginning. Her father, Col. H.C. Lindsay,
a veteran of three wars, arrived in Topeka, Kansas during the fall
of 1856. He collected Lakota beadwork and other Indian art amassing
quite a collection before his death in 1927. Most of Lindsay’s
collection was willed to the Kansas State Historical Society, but
Katherine brought a portion of it with her to the Estes Valley and
decorated her Inn with it. Katherine Lindsay later married O.S.
Perkins and renamed her shop Perkins Trading Post. Over the years,
Katherine completely shifted the focus of the store to the art and
craft of the American Indian, becoming one of the better-known dealers
in the Western States.
During the late 1920’s, Charles Eagle Plume
became acquainted with the Perkins’ during his studies at
the University of Colorado in Boulder. He helped Mrs. Perkins with
everyday chores as Mr. Perkin’s health declined. Charles began
spending his summers entertaining visitors with Indian lore and
dancing, sometimes ambushing carloads of tourists dressed in full
regalia with a shower of arrows, eventually convincing them to purchase
a pair of moccasins or a Navajo rug. Katherine and Charles ran the
store jointly until her death in 1966, adding to their collection
all the while.
Charles Eagle Plume continued to hold court in
the store, enchanting children and adults alike with his tall tales
and corny jokes during the summer. In the long winter months, Eagle
Plume toured the U.S. lecturing on Indian art and culture. He gained
national recognition as a lecturer and performer, championing for
civil rights long before it was popular. He pleaded for peace and
understanding between all races, encouraging those who would listen,
to acknowledge and appreciated the countless gifts the Indigenous
people of America have given our society.