The Conley Inn is the home for students interested in urban, land use and environmental law.
Professor Daniel Weddle
Judge Gary Witt
Judge Kenneth Cain
Lyda Conley was born in 1874 as Eliza Burton Conley to Eliza Burton Zane Conley, a member of the Wyandotte Indian Tribe, and Andrew Conley, an Englishmen. She attended Park College and graduated from the Kansas City School of Law in 1902 with two other women. Lyda’s life changed in 1906 when Congress authorized the Secretary of Interior to sell and develop sacred Wyandotte Indian burial grounds where Lyda’s ancestors were buried. Lyda and her sister Lena erected a rort at the Huron Place Cemetery, stood guard with muskets and posted trespassing signs throughout the cemetery.
In 1907, Lyda filed a petition for injunction against government intervention in the U.S. Circuit Court for the District of Kansas, and her case eventually went before the U.S. Supreme Court. She argued the case pro se, having never been admitted to the Supreme Court Bar, as the first Native American woman lawyer to argue before the Supreme Court.
Although she lost when Oliver Wendell Holmes upheld the lower court’s decision to dismiss the case, she persevered in her fight and eventually Kansas Senator Charles Curtis introduced legislation that precluded the sale and made the land a national monument. The cemetery was placed on the National Historic Register in 1971, 25 years after Lyda Conley’s death in 1946.