The Kaw Tribe Finally Recovers its Sacred Stone

Photo: NPR

You can’t resist seeing the massive red rock in midtown Kansas City’s park. But, be that as it may, this doesn’t belong there.

Finally, the Kaw tribe has been offered back the stone they consider a sacred altar.

Over 20 tons of quartzite stone is currently heading for tribal land with the optimism that it can bolster the strained relationship between the Kaw, or Kanza, people and the state that snatched their land and sacred rock. 

“There’s a little bit of a melancholy feeling that I have when I see it,” stated the vice-chairman of the Kaw Nation, James Pepper Henry. “It’s a reminder to us as Kaw people of what has been taken from us.” 

The tale of the stone is filled as a representation of the tough history of what is now known as Kansas. It addresses what the tribe views as invasion and genocide in some way or another.

When the massive force of a glacier hit billion-and-half-year-old quartzite bedrock in the northern plains, the rock fractured, it shifted, but it did not collapse. Instead, the glacier razed south to what’s now Kansas around 700,000 years previously. 

“Less resistant rocks were just ground to dust,” stated an associate professor of geology at the University of Kansas. “It’s a survivor. It’s hard and resilient, and here it is.” 

It remains in a small park surrounded by winding streets and Kansas, or Kaw, River.

This stone is holy to the Kaw public, like Pepper Henry. His uncle first showed him the stone the Kanza called Íⁿ’zhúje’waxóbe around three decades back, and he recalls his extraordinary look.

“I got goosebumps because, just the scale of it. But I knew how important it was to our people,” he stated. “I could feel the presence of it. And this rock, it had a long journey from where it came from. It’s not from these parts.” 

Pepper Henry lives in Oklahoma. His ancestors Kaw wandered a part of the nation presently known as Kansas, pursuing buffalo for centuries. But federal powers constrained them to hold land, removing the tribe from their original home and pushing them south of Oklahoma during the 1870s.

“Most people in Kansas don’t know that the state is named after a group of people native American tribe, the Kanza,” stated Pepper Henry. “We’ve been virtually erased from Kansas, and we’re invisible to most people here.” 

Two or three years earlier, a tribal leader and a few activists in Lawrence began to extend efforts to restore the stone to the Kaw tribe. KU Director of the Center for Indigenous Research and Science, Jay Johnson, said Lawrence boosters who pulled a stone in the city knew they were holding something critical for the Kanza community.

“They took it, and they reappropriated it,” he stated. “And now the descendants and communities leaders have said, ‘You know what? We should give this back, and we should apologize.'” 

Last year, the city returned it to the people of Kanza and formally apologized for its catch. But Íⁿ’zhúje’waxóbe weighs around 23 tons or maybe even 30 tons. So along these lines, moving it will not be simple.

Johnson said the timing is just perfect. The public clamor over the significance of antiquated pictures and lands brought about by the idea of ​​racism after the murder of George Floyd expanded endeavors to reestablish the stone.


Opinions expressed by Famous Times contributors are their own.

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