The Keeper of the Plains turns 50

Photos by Fernando Salazar capture Blackbear Bosin's iconic sculpture, easily Wichita's most enduring symbol.

The Keeper of the Plains turns 50
Situated at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers, Blackbear Bosin's Keeper of the Plains has become an iconic symbol of Wichita. Photo by Fernando Salazar for the SHOUT.

Fernando Salazar moved to Wichita in 1989, but he doesn't remember taking a photo of Blackbear Bosin's "Keeper of the Plains" until 2007 or 2008, after a visionary $28 million project that elevated the sculpture, situating it between pedestrian bridges at the confluence of Wichita's two rivers.

"I'm finding it more and more interesting," Salazar said. "The more you're out there, you get a peaceful feeling. This guy watching over the Plains — there's just something about it that makes sense."

Salazar, who spent three decades as a photojournalist for the Wichita Eagle, has plenty of opportunity to contemplate the Keeper, as he lives in Riverside, not far from where the Arkansas and Little Arkansas Rivers meet.

"I drive by it every day, so if the sky is spectacular, I'll pull over," he said.

"It's always there to greet me when I come home."

For its 50th, we asked Salazar to capture images of the Keeper of the Plains throughout the day. They go a long way toward explaining why the "Keeper" has become Wichita's most enduring symbol.

Text by Emily Christensen

The Bosin Society will host a 50th anniversary celebration called Party for the People all day Sunday, May 18, in and around the Mid-America All-Indian Museum. Find the full schedule of events on the Visit Wichita website.

When the water is still, you can often see an image of the Keeper of the Plains" reflected in it. Photo by Fernando Salazar for the SHOUT

Learn more about the Keeper of the Plains

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