Sacred Red Rock arrives at new home in Council Grove; future of Robinson Park to be determined

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The Sacred Red Rock recently arrived at its new home on Kaw Nation land, and future plans for Lawrence’s now-vacant Robinson Park are up for discussion.

Jay T. Johnson, director of the Center for Indigenous Research, Science, and Technology at the University of Kansas, said Tuesday that Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe — the Sacred Red Rock — was successfully moved to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park in Council Grove, Kansas on March 20. 

Johnson, who’s a member of the Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe / Sacred Red Rock Project leadership team, provided the Lawrence City Commission with a brief update on the rock’s journey.

“I wanted to thank the city for all of its support in the return and the relocation of Iⁿ ‘zhúje ‘waxóbe,” he told commissioners.

The massive red Siouxan quartzite boulder holds deep historical, cultural and spiritual meaning to the Kaw Nation. The city formally apologized for the theft of the boulder in March 2021 and pledged its return.

August Rudisell/Lawrence Times The Sacred Red Rock sits at Robinson Park, March 28, 2023.

In spring of 2022, the Mellon Foundation announced a $5 million grant to assist with the project, which includes moving the boulder. The majority of the grant money, though, will be used to develop infrastructure with educational visuals situated with the sacred rock at Allegawaho Park — land the Kaw Nation owns near Council Grove — to honor history and allow visitors to learn about it.

Workers on Aug. 30, 2023 moved the Sacred Red Rock from Lawrence’s Robinson Park, beside City Hall, to storage. It had stood at the park since it was taken from its natural location at the intersection of the Shunganunga Creek and Kansas River near Tecumseh nearly a century ago.

Molly Adams / Lawrence Times Straps hold the Sacred Red Rock in place as the truck carrying it heads west, Aug. 30, 2023.

A large community gathering was held the day prior to its departure. Kaw Nation Tribal Vice Chair James Pepper Henry; Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly; and Sydney Pursel, curator for public practice at the Spencer Museum of Art, were among speakers at the celebration, which Johnson said drew approximately 400 people.

Johnson said the infrastructure at Allegawaho Park is currently being built, and a dedication ceremony for the final result is scheduled for Saturday, June 22. The project team plans to publicize details about the ceremony within the next week, he said.

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A bronze plaque on the front of the rock when it was located in Robinson Park revered the majority white people who settled in the area. The plaque was removed on July 31, 2023, and there were plans for it to be viewable at the Watkins Museum of History as part of a permanent future exhibition. Johnson didn’t address the plaque’s current whereabouts or future plans for it as part of his report Tuesday.

Community members are encouraged to attend an upcoming workshop and share their thoughts on how Robinson Park should be utilized moving forward, Johnson said.

The event is scheduled for Sunday, April 21. It’ll begin at 3 p.m. at the park, 4 W. Sixth St., and then move across the street to Lawrence Public Library, 707 Vermont St., for the remainder of the event from 4 to 5:30 p.m. 

In October, project team leaders are set to provide another update to the Lawrence City Commission, detailing community feedback gathered from the workshop as they look to round out the project.

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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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Sacred Red Rock arrives at new home in Council Grove; future of Robinson Park to be determined

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The Sacred Red Rock recently arrived at its new home on Kaw Nation land, and future plans for Lawrence’s now-vacant Robinson Park are up for discussion.

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