Celebration to honor Wakarusa Wetlands, connections to community and nature

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Post updated at 2:01 p.m. Thursday, April 20:

An upcoming community celebration will honor the Wakarusa Wetlands, home to Haskell history and a variety of plants and animal species.

The Lawrence Public Library is partnering with Haskell Indian Nations University and Raven Book Store on Saturday to host the annual celebration of the wetlands, an area near Haskell’s campus with deep ties to Indigenous history in Lawrence.

Community members are invited to join local authors and artists, who will share about their creative works and personal connections to the wetlands, according to the event page on the library’s website. 

Featured authors and artists will include:

  • Daniel Wildcat (Yuchi Member of the Muscogee Nation), author;
  • Ron Brave (Lakota), singer;
  • Iris Cliff (Assiniboine and Turtle Mountain Chippewa), artist;
  • Tokeya Waci U Richardson (Oglala Lakota and Haliwa-Saponi Tribes), artist;
  • Sydney Pursel (Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska), artist;
  • Kayla Cook, author;
  • Angie Pickman, artist;
  • Barry Barnes, author;
  • Jill Mickel, artist;
  • Jake Vail, author;
  • Caryn Mirriam-Goldberg, author; and
  • Ken Lassman, author.

In addition, Haskell student researchers Dori Summers (Dinè), Courtney King (Peoria and Miami), Liam Wrixon (Citizen Band Potawatomi) and Victoria Secondine (Delaware Tribe of Indians) will share the research they have been conducting in the section of the wetlands purchased by Haskell.

Secondine’s research includes a vertebrate camera trapping that studies habitat usage and South Lawrence Trafficway underpasses as migratory corridors; Summers has documented the emergent and floating macrophytes of the wetlands; King has studied aquatic plants and insects as bioindicators of an aquatic habitat’s health; and Wrixon is studying terrestrial insects as bioindicators of disturbances to the wetlands from the South Lawrence Trafficway and 31st Street, according to Secondine.

The celebration is scheduled for 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, April 22, beginning at the Medicine Wheel Earthwork, which is land artwork created by artist Stan Herd and located south of the Haskell campus buildings. Wildcat will give a special land and people recognition, according to the event page.

All ages are welcome, and the event is free to attend. The event page recommends arriving at least 15 minutes early – by 8:45 a.m. – to allow time to travel from the road, where they should park, to the Medicine Wheel. A Land Rover will be available for mobility assistance from the road to the Medicine Wheel.

Because the event is outdoors, attendees are encouraged to bring refillable water bottles to hydrate while reducing the use of plastic, as well as lawn chairs or blankets, according to the event page.

Haskell is located at 155 E. Indian Ave. in Lawrence. Visit this link for detailed directions on where to park and how to get to the Medicine Wheel Earthwork. A general map of the campus can be accessed at this link.

The celebration will be rescheduled to Saturday, April 29 in case of inclement weather, according to the event page. Stay updated via the Facebook event page.

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Maya Hodison (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at mhodison (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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