A stop at the Keeper of the Plains should be on the top of the must-do list for anyone visiting Wichita. Not only is it one of the top free things to do in Wichita, it’s a year-round activity that all ages will enjoy – and it’s only found in Wichita! Currently, the Keeper of the Plains site is getting a quick makeover to enhance the visitor experience.
In October, City of Wichita crews began renovations on the grounds around the statue. Projects to improve accessibility, safety and enjoyment of the downtown attraction include adding stone pavers and ornamental fencing and making adjustments to allow the nightly lighting even during high winds.
The statue will remain visible throughout the work, however, there will be times when sections of the site will be temporarily cordoned off and inaccessible. The renovations are scheduled to be completed in December 2016.
The iconic 44-foot, five-ton Keeper of the Plains steel sculpture of a Native American chief pays tribute to the Native Americans who made the area their home before the arrival of European settlers. Kiowa artist Blackbear Bosin (1921-1980) created the statue and presented it to the city in 1974. In 2007, the Keeper was restored and reinstalled on a higher platform to elevate the statue an additional 30 feet.
It is located at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers and is surrounded by Keeper of the Plains Plaza, which features exhibits depicting the Plains Indians’ way of life and representing the four elements essential to life – earth, air, water and fire. The Keeper is majestic in any light but if possible see the 15-minute “Ring of Fire” at 9 p.m. (spring and summer) or 7 p.m. (fall and winter), weather permitting.
Access to the plaza area is by two bow-and-arrow-inspired cable-stay bridges or through the Mid-America All-Indian Center during the day. The entire area is wheelchair accessible. The Mid-America All-Indian Center houses a museum, gallery of nations and a gift shop featuring artists’ work. They also host programs showcasing the heritage of the Native American.