Keeper a fitting tribute to dedicated medical community
by Stephen J. Grindel, DO —
When I first moved to Wichita in 1986, I lived in an apartment complex directly across from the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. I was told it is sacred ground to the local indigenous people whose ancestors inhabited this area before European settlers. The Mid-America All-Indian Center was nearby where many local tribes held social gatherings and events.
The most amazing part at the confluence of the rivers was the Keeper of the Plains. The 44-foot-high structure was impressive but not easy to view. The sculpture was a gift from the artist, Blackbear Bosin. He was initially given financial help from the energy company KG&E and subsequently funded by the Wichita City Council, the state Bicentennial Commission and the Quivira Council of the Boy Scouts. The sculpture was dedicated in 1974 to honor America’s bicentennial celebration. It soon became the iconic symbol for the people of Wichita and surrounding area.
In 2005, the area around the Keeper of the Plains underwent extensive renovation, and the sculpture was elevated 30 feet, making it more visible and impressive. Parks were also constructed around the Keeper, making it more accessible to the public.
The idea for the Keeper the Plains came to Bosin when he was hospitalized in 1968. It seems fitting that MSSC recently added a replica of the Keeper outside our office building, 1102 S. Hillside. Our Keeper honors the medical professionals who have been dedicating their lives and expertise to serve the people of Sedgwick County during the COVID-19 pandemic.
MSSC dedicated the Keeper at a special unveiling event on April 28. Wichita Mayor Brandon Whipple and Sedgwick County Commission Chairman Pete Meitzner attended, and both spoke about how grateful they were to our local medical community.
MSSC and Medical Provider Resources worked with Together Wichita and the Blackbear Bosin Foundation to commission the statue. It was designed and painted by Wichita artist John Pirtle.
The design of the Keeper features masked physicians and nurses of different genders and races. It is an inclusive “thank you” to the medical community.
I want to thank all the individuals involved in this project, including MSSC Past President Dr. Patricia Wyatt-Harris and MSSC staff members Phillip Brownlee and Denise Phillips. Please stop by the Medical Society office to admire the Keeper and take a selfie.