Minisa Bridge

Wichita Urban Native History Tour

Minisa Bridge

Wichita, Kansas 67203, United States

Created By: Wichita History Walk


This prominent location is an integral part of Wichita’s history. Since it opened in 1929, North High was known for its distinctive design highlighted by Native American and pioneer sculptures. The Minisa Bridge was built in 1932, and also showcased and complemented the intricate designs of North High School.

The bridge sits over the Little Arkansas River at 13th Street and is 40 feet wide and 251 feet long. It was designed by Lawrence Byers, an associate of architect Glen Thomas, one of the main designers for North High along with artist Bruce Moore. It features Native American and buffalo ornamentation and sculptures made of colored concrete and crushed colored glass, a material known as carthalite.

According to an article at the time, the name Minisa means “Red Water at Sunset” and was chosen by the students of North High. The idea to name the bridge came from “Minisa,” a famous score composed by Dean Thurlow Lieurance, head of the Fine Arts Department at the University of Wichita. According to the Wichita Eagle, Minisa is a Chippewa word which conveys the story of the advance of Native Americans, their attempts to reconcile ancestral tribal traditions to the new order, and the emotional conflict that ensued. Lieurance was a guest of honor at the bridge’s dedication in September of 1932, and his song “Minisa” was played while the bridge was being dedicated. The celebration included students from the American Indian Institute who performed tribal dances, and North High students rowing canoes in the Little Arkansas River below. Among the performers was the young artist Woody Crumbo, who would later name his daughter Minisa.

The Minisa Bridge was listed on the Wichita Register of Historic Places in 1979 and was restored in 2007. The extensive restoration efforts involved the entire community as the bridge heads, railings and some of the sculptures were made of carthalite. Since the carthalite was unique to Wichita, the restoration team asked for local donations of colored 1930’s era glass so that that the original material could be duplicated. The community was very much interested in the success of this project and followed through with their donations. More than 200 people attended the reopening of the bridge.

The Minisa Bridge is a physical reminder of Wichita’s Native American history and will be an integral part of our city for years to come.

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


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