The Keeper of the Plains is a 44-feet statue of a Native American male. He stands as a steel sculpture where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers flow together in downtown Wichita, KS. He was created by Kiowa-Comanche artist Blackbear Bosin in 1974 for the people of this city so they might get in touch with their roots. He stands tall near the entrance to the Mid-American All-Indian Center. Visitors can cross 2 pedestrian bridges over these rivers to see this excellent tribute to their past. They can climb down to an island too.
Those who take the time can learn a lot about Native American life and beliefs as they wander about. For example, this vivid, unforgettable monument reminds all who gather here that Plains people before and after colonization by settlers believed that humans are floating in a circle on the back of a turtle. A splendid turtle is incorporated into the design of The Keeper of the Plains. This area’s dominant Native Americans were hunters, warriors, storytellers, and constantly on the move. A map of their tribal lands is part of this monument as is information about bison. Their very existence depended on this animal. From bison tribal natives got food and equipment like riding gear. They had 60 million bison nearby to satisfy their daily needs.
Women had status in any tribe. They were joint owners of property, had control and custody of children, and influenced their husbands mightily. The tribal chief had an honorary title. There was no automatic power guarantee. Native Americans called horses “big dogs”. Horses were a key to status and afforded mobility.
The Keeper of the Plains is a monumental achievement worth seeing while in Wichita and an especially popular and well-visited local monument.