Celebration of Sacred Red Rock’s return to the Kaw Nation scheduled for this weekend

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An upcoming celebration will honor the Sacred Red Rock’s arrival to its home on Kaw Nation land. 

Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe — the Sacred Red Rock — was successfully moved to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park in Council Grove, Kansas on March 20.

The Rematriation Celebration is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22 at the park, South 525 Road in Council Grove. It’s about an hour and a half drive from Lawrence. (Click here to get directions.)

The celebration will concur with the city’s annual Washunga Days cultural festival happening that day.

Previously held for nearly a century at Lawrence’s Robinson Park, where it had a plaque revering mostly white settlers attached to it, the massive red Siouxan quartzite boulder holds deep historical, cultural and spiritual meaning to the Kaw Nation. The City of Lawrence formally apologized for the theft of the boulder in March 2021 and pledged its return.

Kaw Nation Vice Chairman James Pepper Henry said in a news release about the celebration that “It is our wish in the 21st century to strengthen our ties to our homeland and to educate the citizens of Kansas about our people.”

The Sacred Red Rock was successfully moved to Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park in Council Grove, Kansas on March 20, 2024. In the photo at right are (from left to right) Toni Wheeler, Pauline Eads Sharp, James Pepper Henry, Sydney Pursel and Jay Johnson. (Screenshot / City of Lawrence YouTube)

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, however, is being 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 encourage visitors to learn about it.

Workers on Aug. 30, 2023 moved the Sacred Red Rock from Robinson Park, located 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.

According to the Kaw Nation’s news release, the infrastructure at Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park, including a new open-air welcome center and restroom facilities, is still being built. But construction is set to be finished so that the park can open to the public this fall. 

Saturday’s event is free to attend, and parking and seating will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.

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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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Kaw Valley Almanac for July 15-21, 2024

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Gray coneflower, Ratibida pinnata, is a long blooming native perennial whose name refers to the gray cone under the brown disk florets, here being visited by a bumblebee interested in their sweet nectar.


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