Keeper of the Plains

Wichita Urban Native History Tour

Keeper of the Plains

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Wichita History Walk


In 1968, Kansas Gas and Electric (KG&E) had a problem. They had built an addition near the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers and the area needed beautification. Since KG&E wanted to focus on American Indian heritage in Kansas, vice president at the time Elmer Hall approached Blackbear Bosin to design a statue. As a prominent Kiowa/Comanche artist, Bosin was the person for the job. He conceptualized The Keeper of the Plains as a 44 foot sculpture of COR-TEN weathering steel, the same material used for Picasso’s untitled monumental sculpture Chicago’s Daley Plaza the previous year.

After the statue’s design was completed, a long six-year process began to secure funding to construct the sculpture. Tom Washburn of Architectural Metal Products agreed to honor the original bid made 6 years prior. If not for his generosity, and the fundraising efforts, the Keeper would not exist today. 12 welders (nicknamed the "Dirty Dozen") from Architectural Metal Products cut and welded the Keeper in only three months, in time for the dedication on May 18, 1974.

For years, the Keeper sat on the grounds behind the Mid America All Indian Museum. Then, in 2006, the City of Wichita began a project to revitalize the river corridor. They elevated the Keeper onto a 30-foot rock and built the bridges and plaza area around. The Keeper now faces east to greet the rising sun and thank the Creator for each new day, since all new beginnings, all new life, and all new days come from the east.

The Keeper Plaza also houses a giant Medicine Wheel, a sacred symbol used by Plains Indians to represent the world. For generations, the symbol has represented the cycle of life, the Earth and everything that life needs to survive. The wheel represents the four elements – air, fire, water, and earth. It embodies the four directions – north, south, east, and west – plus Mother Earth and Father Sky. When the firepots are lit at dusk each evening, it is the only time that all elements are present, and the wheel is complete.

This point of interest is part of the tour: Wichita Urban Native History Tour


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