|(Photo from here)|
Growing up, I thought it was normal to have a 44 foot tall sculpture of an Indian warrior in your city. Above is the structure known to all as the Keeper of the Plains, located in Wichita, Kansas at the point where the Little Arkansas (pronounced in Kansas as Ar-kansas) and the Big Arkansas rivers merge. During a short visit to Wichita last week I stopped by to see the Keeper. It’s still there, standing tall. A symbol of the greatness of Native American culture that existed long before Kansas was even a state. Oops, I almost got policital for a second, sorry.
The scupture was designed by a Native American artist named Blackbear Bosin and it happens to be a local landmark. It also happens to a bit on the unusual side, I admit. It just stands there, being proud and facing the point where the two rivers meet. My parents took me there several times when I as younger. It was always a destination when relatives came to visit. It’s name defines it, it symbolically stands guard over the land, keeping it safe and allowing residents to use the plains as they see fit. To plant, grow, build, to make the plains their home. Hmm… I think I’m waxing lyrical a bit too much.
Really, it’s only cool if you’re from Wichita, because it’s local. Like the local sports team that everyone follows. Like the local bands in any given music scene that only you have heard of. Like the local Rav that does more outreach in a week than most people do in a year. Like the local restaurant that makes that one item that you can’t get anywhere on either coast. Like the local one guy in shul who seems to know all the answers in every halacha shiur. Like the local short-cut that will get you home faster than the main streets.
It’s all of those little things that make us feel comfortable when we are “home”. Having that bond of “common knowledge” can bring people closer together.
We are all, in some ways, locals. However, we are also just visiting.