Prayer rock loaded up and returned to Kaw Nation; Lawrence park likely to remain closed to public for months

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

A crew works to safely transfer Iⁿ’zhúje’waxóbe from the ground to a truck by crane so it can be transported to Allegawaho Heritage Memorial Park in Council Grove Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.

Public access to Robinson Park will remain restricted until close to the end of the year, following the return of a prayer rock, which was the centerpiece of the downtown park, to the Kaw Nation.

The rock, known as Iⁿ’zhúje’waxóbe, officially started its trip back to the Kaw Nation Wednesday morning. At Robinson Park, 4 W. Sixth St., a crew secured the rock that is sacred to the Kanza people and lifted it by crane onto the truck that would transport it to Council Grove. It will be placed in a storage facility until it’s ready to be installed in Allegawaho Heritage Memorial Park, which is owned by the Kaw Nation.

The 28-ton red quartzite boulder’s original home — before it was taken to Lawrence in 1929 and fitted with a plaque honoring the city’s white settlers — sat at the confluence of the Kansas River and Shunganunga Creek in Tecumseh. Geologists have said the boulder was carried to Kansas from the area of the Dakotas on a glacier hundreds of thousands of years ago.

Although the prayer rock has now left Lawrence after nearly a century, remnants of the return process still stand at Robinson Park. One of them is the stone pedestal, which the boulder sat on in the center of the park. The public park also is still enclosed by fencing with signs reading “KEEP OUT” and “NO TRESPASSING.”

Cori Wallace, a spokesperson for the City of Lawrence, told the Journal-World Wednesday afternoon that some of the round stones that made up the pedestal were pulled apart and moved along with Iⁿ’zhúje’waxóbe to Council Grove.

“There are still some remaining bricks, stones and concrete, and those materials will be removed in phases,” Wallace added.

The fencing will be removed toward the end of the year, Wallace said, as the city works to transition the materials that remain on site and to work on some water-line repairs within the park.

Before its departure Wednesday morning, members of the Kaw Nation also took part in private ceremonies honoring Iⁿ’zhúje’waxóbe.

The move followed an event on Tuesday that featured remarks from Kaw Nation leaders, Gov. Laura Kelly, Lawrence officials and members of the project team that’s been working to arrange for the prayer rock’s return.

photo by: Austin Hornbostel/Journal-World

Though the Kaw Nation prayer rock that previously sat in Robinson Park, 4 W. Sixth St., had been removed, fencing with signs advising people not to enter still surrounded the park midway through the afternoon on Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023.


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