‘Keeper of the Plains’ sculpture celebrating 50th anniversary in Wichita

Wichita, Kansas is set to commemorate a significant milestone in its cultural heritage with the 50th anniversary of the iconic ‘Keeper of the Plains‘ sculpture this May 18, 2024. The sculpture has stood as a beacon of inspiration for half a century, captivating residents and visitors with its meaningful presence. 

Completed in 1974, the installation has since become a symbol for the city of Wichita, a tribute to the Native American tribes who continue to gather at the sacred site. The ‘Keeper of the Plains’ stands at the confluence of the Big and Little Arkansas rivers with hands raised in supplication to the Great Spirit–a manifestation of Wichita’s enduring spirit. 

The sculpture was crafted by native Wichitan and renowned artist of Kiowa-Comanche heritage, Blackbear Bosin. Bosin originally created the 44-foot-tall steel sculpture, his only structural project, as a tribute to the Indigenous peoples in the Wichita area. Bosin did not accept a fee for the Keeper, instead he dedicated it to the city of Wichita and its people as a symbol of unity, resilience, and reverence for the land and its original inhabitants.

“The Keeper of the Plains is more than just a sculpture, it is a symbol of Wichita’s shared identity, deep historical roots  and collective pride,” President and CEO of Visit Wichita Susie Santo said. “As we celebrate its 50th anniversary, we honor the enduring legacy and cultural heritage. ‘The Keeper’ will continue to inspire and unite Wichitans for generations to come.”

This year’s anniversary is a city wide celebration on May 18 featuring the ‘Party for the People’ and will include a free family-friendly celebration centered around a powwow, Native performances, food, fireworks and free admission to the Mid-America All-Indian Museum.

The Party for the People celebration

  • 7:00 a.m. | Volunteer to clean up the river

Join the community in a collective effort to preserve the beauty of the river.

  • 8:00 a.m. | Park Run

Lace up your running shoes and participate in the Park Run, promoting health and wellness.

  • 11:00 a.m. | Re-dedication Ceremony & Opening Remarks

Commemorate the 50th anniversary with a ceremony honoring the iconic Keeper statue.

  • 11:30 a.m. | City Crew Event

Engage with the local city crew in a special event showcasing community collaboration.

  • 1-5:00 p.m. | Outdoor Festival & Live Entertainment

Enjoy the festivities with a family-friendly atmosphere, featuring Native performances, free museum admission, and outdoor games.

  • 2-8:00  p.m. | Indoor Powwow

Immerse yourself in Native culture through captivating performances and exhibits by Native youth and adults.

  • 8:00 p.m. | Floatin’ On The River – Glow Tour

Experience the enchanting Glow Tour on the river, a mesmerizing spectacle not to be missed.

  • 9:00 p.m. | Fireworks Show

Conclude the day’s celebration with a fireworks display illuminating the Wichita skyline.

For more information on the ‘Keeper of the Plains’ 50th anniversary, click here

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