One tank trip: Mid-America All-Indian Museum provides a look into indigenous culture

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(Illustration by Kaylie McLaughlin | Collegian Media Group)

If you only had one tank of gas to go to the destination of your choice, where would you go?

Sometimes it’s difficult finding fun things to do in Manhattan, but luckily there are great options just a tank of gas away.

One destination is the Mid-America All-Indian Museum in Wichita, Kansas. The museum highlights Native American art, history and culture through exhibits and interactive experiences. Most if not all the art and artifacts were created by indigenous artists, detailing their history, artifacts and tribal traditions.

The Mid-America All-Indian Museum prides itself on its interactive experiences that open up discussion among visitors, talking about their experiences and knowledge.

The museum sits on the land between where the Big and Little Arkansas Rivers meet, which is considered sacred ground by many Native American tribes, including the Wichita tribe.

This is not the only way the museum embodies traditional Native beliefs and traditions. It houses over 3,000 pieces of artwork and artifacts and features an outdoor learning center next to The Keeper of the Plains Plaza.

The Keeper of the Plains Plaza is an attraction people travel to see. It features “The Keeper of the Plains,” a large statue created by Kiowa-Comanche artist and Wichita native Blackbear Bosin. The sculpture and the surrounding plaza represent all of the plains tribes, as well as traditional elements like earth, wind, fire and air.

According to the Wichita resource website 360Wichita.com, “The Mid-America All-Indian Center is the only facility of its kind in Kansas that is solely dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich cultural history of American Indians in North America. Events are held regularly at the Indian Center, including Powwows that attract American Indian dancers representing tribes from across the United States.”

It is also well known for its “Ring of Fire” ceremony that takes place at 9 p.m. every night for 15 minutes. This is when the posts around The Keeper of the Plains are lit.

The museum has many events on its website, as well as several guided tour options. Just make sure to schedule them at least two weeks in advance.

It’s important to check the museum website or call to find out the hours of operations and what COVID-19 restrictions are in place. Some exhibits might be closed because of these circumstances, but most are available to see.

Next time you want to get out of Manhattan, the Mid-America All-Indian Museum is a great place to visit.

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Hey! I’m Maddie Daniel and I am a junior in mass communications. This semester, I'm the assistant culture editor and have previously served as a staff writer. After I graduate, I plan to go to law school to pursue a career in Federal Indian Law. I love art, history and anything outdoors.