Looking for a souvenir to commemorate the Keeper of the Plains? It’s the most recognizable landmark in Wichita, Kansas, and it turns 50 this year. The five-ton, 44-foot-tall steel sculpture, designed by Native American artist Blackbear Bosin (1921-1980), was donated to the city of Wichita in celebration of the U.S. Bicentennial and was first displayed five decades ago in May 1974. It sits near the Mid-America All-Indian Museum (MAAIM) in downtown Wichita, where the Big and Little Arkansas rivers join.

In 2007, a renovation made way for the Keeper of the Plains Plaza, which includes exhibits detailing the customs and traditions of the Plains Indians. Firepots surrounding the Keeper were also added at that time. Known as the “Ring of Fire” when lit, the lighting of the firepots happens each night (at 9 p.m. during Daylight Saving Time and 7 p.m. during Standard Time). If the winds are calm, the pots are lit for 15 minutes. They are symbolic as they complete a sacred hoop of the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water.

A family-friendly festival commemorating the 50th anniversary, Party for the People, is scheduled for May 18 at MAAIM. The day-long, free party will include rededication ceremonies, a powwow, mesmerizing Native performances, Native art exhibits, food trucks, fireworks and a variety of outdoor activities.

Wichita souvenirs sit on display at t Wichita shopWichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum

Where to find Keeper souvenirs

Want to take a memory of the Keeper with you? There are many places around the city that carry souvenirs. One of the best places to find Keeper items is the MAAIM gift shop. You’ll find a vast selection of locally created goods, including a variety of Keeper statues and other memorabilia, as well as works from and about Blackbear Bosin.

The Wichita-Sedgwick Co. Historical Museum carries a book, postcards and other items and the Wichita Art Museum offers prints, stickers and jewelry such as earrings, bracelets and necklaces.

The Health Connection’s two locations (Delano and east Wichita) have a great selection of items featuring the Keeper of the Plains. In addition to beautiful portraits by Drone-tography, they have earrings, T-shirts, hats, magnets, drinkware, car accessories and more in stock.

Another shop specializing in local art and artisan goods is The Workroom. It’s a great place to find clothing featuring the Keeper as well as other items such as mugs, glassware and more. The shop is currently closed as they move to a new location but will open back up in June 2024. Look for their new location at 523 E. Douglas Ave. in downtown Wichita or shop from their online store.

    Merchandise sits on sale in the Mid-American All-Indian Museum gift shop
Mid-American All-Indian Museum Gift Shop

Other local shops known to have Wichita and Keeper of the Plains souvenirs include Clifton Collective, Generations AntiquesThings 4 That and Wichita Screen Printing.

No matter what time of year you visit the Heart of the Country, be sure to experience the Keeper of the Plains. It’s a place where all can gather for peaceful and tranquil reflection. Go here for more background on the Keeper and use our guide to map out your local shopping adventures in Wichita.