Mid America All-Indian Museum

Wichita Urban Native History Tour

Mid America All-Indian Museum

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Wichita History Walk


Although Wichita was once the home of tribes such as the Wichita, Kiowa, and Osage prior to European settlement in the late 19th Century, many of the Native Americans that make up what we now consider the “urban natives” of present-day Wichita began arriving in the 1940s, many from reservations in Oklahoma after being invited to work for aircraft companies during the World War II employment boom. In the following years, the growth of this population began to rapidly expand as friends and family members of these residents followed. By the 1970s, this population had expanded to around 3,000.

Like in many other urban areas around the country, the conditions of urban natives were often characterized by poverty, lack of education, and a struggle to assimilate into a non-native society while still holding on to their native identity. Many urban natives faced difficulties with finding housing and employment in addition to other issues such as lack of education and feeling uncomfortable when communicating with non-native residents. In addition to these problems, many white residents of the city seemed to show little interest or knowledge about their native neighbors and if they did, they were often based off of harmful stereotypes perpetuated by Hollywood.

During these years of expansion, there was only one agency that offered immediate help to Native Americans in Wichita who faced emergencies as they adjusted to life outside of reservations: The Indian Service Center. It was housed in four overcrowded rooms above the Wichita Council of Churches, where their supply of food and clothing were maintained through contributions from area churches. The services this agency provided included providing emergency food supplies, clothing and counseling individuals and families by facilitating contact with welfare agencies, legal agencies and medical agencies where they could get additional support.

To respond to the needs of this growing community, in 1969, The Mid-America All Indian Center (MAAIC) was founded by a group of prominent Native leaders to not only help other Native Americans in Wichita, but also to educate the wider public about Native American history and culture along with helping to preserve Native culture. These original founders included Pauline Blum (Potawatomi), F. Blackbear Bosin (Comanche-Kiowa), Calvin Chisholm (Shawnee-Creek), Betty Jean Hodson (Navajo), Jay R. Hunter (Winnegabo), John Levi (Arapaho), C. Lance Lujan (Kiowa-Taos), Rubie McKenzie (Kiowa), Betty Nixon (Kiowa), Hollis Stabler (Omaha), and Eugene Standingbear (Sioux).

"We had made up our minds we were going to have a multi-service Indian Center, but we were primarily looking for a place to meet. We'd been getting a lot of help from people in the community. Wichita has always been a friendly place for all Indians, they used to come and trade here in the old days. We began having dances at the armories and I planned our First Thanksgiving Feast, so we could bring about a better understanding between Indians and non-Indians in the community," Pauline Blum said.

On April 16, 1974, the Wichita City Commission approved a $2 million bond issue to construct the MAAIC building. Its location would be at the confluence of the Little and Big Arkansas Rivers near downtown Wichita. Construction of the new center began with the Groundbreaking Ceremonies on March 8, 1975. The new building was occupied by the beginning of April 1976. A week-long dedication was held in late May of that year. To Hollis Stabler, who served as the MAAIC board chairman for two years, the new building represented a new era. "When I first walked in, it just floored me. I know it serves as an incentive for other Indian people."

The location of the new center had already been of enormous interest to the people of Wichita. Earlier that spring, Blackbear Bosin's gift to the city, his now-iconic sculpture "Keeper of the Plains" had made headlines. It was erected at the peninsular point of the two rivers and dedicated on May 18, 1974. The 44-foot sculpture stands as a tribute to Indian Heritage and marks the strength of Indian culture.

When it first opened, MAAIC served as a cultural center and resource for Native Americans living in Wichita to access various social services such as employment/job training, medical services, legal services and more. Eventually, the social services that were housed in the building, such as Hunter Health, relocated to larger spaces and the building was used solely as a center for Native American art, education and cultural events. In 2019, the Mid-America All-Indian Center was renamed to the Mid-America All-Indian Museum (MAAIM).

Today, the MAAIM is filled with the work of Native American Artists from around the country. From the more than 3,000-piece collection, multiple exhibits are on display inside the museum. Exhibits are changed quarterly and yearly allowing for visitors to always learn something new every time they visit. Woven throughout the museum is the life and art of Kiowa/Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin who created arguably the most iconic attraction in Wichita, the Keeper of the Plains. Bosin was also one of the museum’s founders, and he worked to have Indian art recognized as true art.

In addition to the art exhibits, the museum also has an outdoor learning center, an artists’ garden, a gift shop, and a large indoor space known as the Gallery of Nations that showcases the flags of nearly 100 flags of different tribal nations. Throughout the year, the MAAIM hosts a variety of educational events for the public from beading classes, social gatherings, artist talks and more. Mere steps from the MAAIM entrance, Blackbear Bosin’s iconic Keeper of the Plains statue still stands 50 years later, watching over the city and its people.

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


Leave a Comment



Download the App

Download the PocketSights Tour Guide mobile app to take this self-guided tour on your GPS-enabled mobile device.

iOS Tour Guide Android Tour Guide



Updates and Corrections

Please send change requests to changerequest@pocketsights.com.