Governor Kelly Celebrates the Return of the Sacred Red Rock to the Kaw Nation 

—Today, Governor Laura Kelly joined Kaw Nation leaders, City of Lawrence officials, and Haskell Indian Nations University and University of Kansas representatives to commemorate the return of the Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe, or Sacred Red Rock, to the people of the Kaw Nation. 

“The Sacred Red Rock has long been part of Kansas’ history, and I am honored to participate in its return to its rightful stewards,” Governor Kelly said. “This event marks a significant step forward in ensuring we respect and honor Indigenous peoples, cultures, and traditions.” 

Several hundred thousand years ago, a glacier took the rock from an area in what is now southwestern Minnesota to the Kansas River Valley, where it became an important part the Kaw Nation’s spiritual life.   

“I am delighted to see our city’s leaders collectively honor the sovereign rights of Tribal Nations by partnering in the return of the Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe Sacred Red Rock,” said Jancita Warrington, Executive Director, Kansas Native American Affairs, Office of the Governor. “Chancellor Girod, Mayor Larsen and the Lawrence City Commissioners have shown both compassion and respect for the Kaw Nation by honoring their request to return this grandfather rock to its cultural and spiritual stewards. This is a great example of a productive partnership between leaders, and I am excited to see what will transpire from this continued relationship moving forward.” 

In 1929, the Sacred Red Rock was transported to Lawrence. It currently resides in Robinson Park. Iⁿ‘zhúje‘waxóbe will now be returned to Kaw Nation land at Allegawaho Memorial Heritage Park near Council Grove. 

“As an Indigenous person, I am extremely honored and humbled to be a part of this project and this historic event,” said Sydney Pursel, Co-Principal Investigator, Sacred Red Rock Project and Curator for Public Practice at Spencer Museum of Art. “I am in awe that Governor Kelly, Mayor Larson, and the Lawrence City Commission are present to support this effort. It is my hope that the relationships established throughout this project and further concretized with the ceremonious Return of the Rock event will continue long into the future, so that Kaw Nation’s presence is strengthened in the state that bears its name.” 

Photos from today’s event are available for media use: