Postcard from Wichita: The Keeper of the Plains

The Keeper of the Plains in Wichita Kansas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The Keeper of the Plains in Wichita Kansas (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The dramatic sculpture Keeper of the Plains presides over the intersection of the Big Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers in downtown Wichita, Kansas (note: it’s pronounced “Ar-KAN-sas” in these parts, not “Ar-kan-SAW” like it is in most other places.)

It’s part of a whole people-friendly outdoor complex along the rivers with walking paths, extensive city bike paths and two big white pedestrian suspension bridges connecting it all, one of many reasons to visit the Wichita River Corridor.

For centuries the river confluence here has been a sacred place for Native Americans; Comanche-Kiowa artist Blackbear Bosin wove fire, earth, air and water elements of the setting into this sculpture that raises its hands up to the Great Spirit.

When you stand near the Keeper, you’ll feel almost-constant breezes, hear trickling river waters, touch carved stones around the Keeper’s Plaza and at night (weather permitting) a “ring of fire” is lighted from elevated braziers and illuminates the sculpture.

I’ve never had a chance to visit Wichita until now; this work of art was a terrific introduction to a city that surprised me.

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