Sacred Red Rock returned to Kaw Nation as leaders gather to mark the moment

The Sacred Red Rock, which played a large part in the spirituality of the Kaw Nation, has now been returned to its rightful stewards.
Published: Aug. 29, 2023 at 11:43 AM CDT
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LAWRENCE, Kan. (WIBW) - The Sacred Red Rock, which played a large part in the spirituality of the Kaw Nation, has now been returned to its rightful stewards after it was taken from its ancestral lands in 1929.

Kansas Governor Laura Kelly joined Kaw Nation leaders, City of Lawrence officials and representatives from Haskell Indian Nations University and the University of Kansas on Tuesday, Aug. 29, to commemorate the return of the Iⁿ'zhúje’waxóbe, or Sacred Red Rock, to the Kaw Nation.

“The Sacred Red Rock has long been part of Kansas’ history, and I am honored to participate in its return to its rightful stewards,” Gov. Kelly said. “This event marks a significant step forward in ensuring we respect and honor Indigenous peoples, cultures, and traditions.”

Several hundred thousand years ago, Kelly noted that a glacier took the rock from an area that would now be considered southwestern Minnesota to the Kansas River Valley. Here, it became an important part of the Kaw Nation’s spirituality.

“I am delighted to see our city’s leaders collectively honor the sovereign rights of Tribal Nations by partnering in the return of the Iⁿ'zhúje’waxóbe Sacred Red Rock,” said Jancita Warrington, Executive Director, Kansas Native American Affairs, Office of the Governor. “Chancellor Girod, Mayor Larsen and the Lawrence City Commissioners have shown both compassion and respect for the Kaw Nation by honoring their request to return this grandfather rock to its cultural and spiritual stewards. This is a great example of a productive partnership between leaders, and I am excited to see what will transpire from this continued relationship moving forward.”

In 1929, Kelly said the Sacred Red Rock was taken from its home in the Kansas River Valley and was put on a base in Buford M. Watson Jr. Park. Iⁿ'zhúje’waxóbe will now be returned to Kaw Nation land at Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park near Council Grove.

“As an Indigenous person, I am extremely honored and humbled to be a part of this project and this historic event,” said Sydney Purcell, Co-Principal Investigator, the Sacred Red Rock Project and Curator for Public Practice at Spencer Museum of Art. “I am in awe that Governor Kelly, Mayor Larson, and the Lawrence City Commission are present to support this effort. It is my hope that the relationships established throughout this project and further concretized with the ceremonious Return of the Rock event will continue long into the future so that Kaw Nation’s presence is strengthened in the state that bears its name.”

For more information about Iⁿ'zhúje’waxóbe, click HERE.