Lawrence community asked to help creatively document Sacred Red Rock before its return to Kaw Nation

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Lawrence community members are invited to creatively express their interpretations of the Sacred Red Rock that has long stood in Robinson Park before it is finally returned to the Kaw Nation.

Artists, poets, musicians and photographers of all ages and others who are interested are invited to help document the Sacred Red Rock before its transition later this summer. Participants can pinpoint any and all aspects of the boulder or the park and then use their chosen art medium to tell a story. That artwork could become part of the project’s history.

Iⁿ ‘zhúje ‘waxóbe, which translates to “sacred red rock,” belongs to the original inhabitants of the area — the people of Kaw Nation. It was taken from its natural location at the intersection of the Shunganunga Creek and Kansas River near Tecumseh about 94 years ago. The front of the 28-ton red Siouxan quartzite boulder currently reveres white settlers with a plaque.

Leaders working on the project, including Sydney Pursel, Dave Loewenstein, James Pepper Henry and Jay T. Johnson, on April 1 offered pieces of history as well as updates on the project. With a $5 million grant from the Mellon Foundation, the boulder will be relocated to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park, located near Council Grove, Kansas. The Kaw Nation in 2002 purchased back the land that makes up Allegawaho Park, which is a portion of the final reservation lands of the Kaw Nation in Kansas before its relocation to Indian Territory (Oklahoma) in 1873.

Outside of the actual moving of the Sacred Red Rock, most of the grant funds will be used to build educational visuals that will be situated with it at Allegawaho. The infrastructure will allow visitors to learn about and honor its history.

The artist workshops, to be led by Loewenstein and Pursel, are scheduled for 10 to 11:30 a.m. and 7 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, July 23 at Robinson Park, 4 W. Sixth St. in Lawrence.

“Selected works will become part of an exhibition in 2024-25, and may be featured on our website and in the forthcoming book about the project,” organizers said in a news release about the event.

Artists can continue to work on their pieces as long as they’d like, then share photos or documentation of them with “We will contact you about opportunities to show and share your work in the fall,” organizers said in the release.

Limited art supplies will be available at the workshops, so attendees are encouraged to bring their own supplies or equipment, according to the release.

More information on the Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe / Sacred Red Rock Project is available on its website,, and in the articles linked below.

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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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