LAWRENCE (KSNT) – Crowds gathered in Lawrence to celebrate the relocation of a sacred prayer artifact back to its native tribe land.

The “Sacred Red Rock” has been at Lawrence’s Robinson Park since 1929, but it’s finally returning to the Kaw Nation. Kim Jenkins, chairwoman of the the Kaw Nation, told 27 News that having the rock make its way back to the tribe is a step in the right direction. She hopes it encourages other tribes to take similar steps as the Kaw, in retrieving historic artifacts.

“It’s something that I wasn’t a part of, that now we’re bringing it home,” Jenkins said. “And now we can go back to bringing it in our ceremonies and doing justice for the rock.” 

Those celebrating the rocks return gathered in Lawrence Tuesday morning to listen to speakers, a drum honor song and join in friendship dances. In addition to representatives from the Kaw like Jenkins and vice-chairman Jim Pepper Henry, speakers included Gov. Laura Kelly, Lawrence Mayor Lisa Larsen and Lawrence City Commissioner Courtney Shipley.

The 28-ton rock has been at Robinson Park from 93 years, but before that, it was near Tecumseh in Shawnee County. The City of Lawrence has apologized to the Kaw Nation for taking possession of the sacred rock, and have been working with them to get it returned.

The rock will be transported to Council Grove, where Jenkins said the Kaw Nation will be able to properly care for it. According to Jenkins, the rock has played a key part in the tribe’s history as a sacred prayer item that’s often at the center of various ceremonies.

Last week, workers removed the rock from its base at the park. Next, they plan to disassemble the base and send those smaller rocks to Council Grove with the Sacred Red Rock on Aug. 30.