Artwork Information

  • Title:

    Keeper of the Plains Maquette

  • Artist:

    Bosin, Blackbear

  • Artist Bio:

    American, 1921–1980

  • Date:


  • Medium:


  • Dimensions:

    11 3/4 x 4 x 4 1/2 inches

  • Credit Line:

    Wichita Art Museum, Museum purchase, Director's Discretionary Fund

  • Object Number:


  • Display:

    Not Currently on Display

About the Artwork

Blackbear Bosin was a nationally acclaimed Native American artist whose art taught Wichitans about the ancient heritage of their city. Blackbear is best known to the public for his sculpture Keeper of the Plains, which stands at the confluence of the Arkansas and Little Arkansas rivers. Keeper of the Plains caught the imagination of the Wichita American Revolution Bicentennial Commission of Wichita Festivals who adopted the sculpture project as the Bicentennial symbol for Wichita.

Born to a Kiowa father and a Comanche mother in Anadarko, Oklahoma, Blackbear (Tsate-Kongia) lived on a farm and attended St. Patrick’s Mission School. The artist later reported that he had been raised in a climate of prejudice, which inhabited his early appreciation of his native cultural heritage. However, his mother Ada, who was a talented bead worker, inspired her son’s interest in art, an interest, which he pursued largely on his own without formal education.

Blackbear first came to Wichita in 1940 to work in the aircraft industry. After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War II, he returned to Wichita in 1946 to take a job as a commercial artist. Artist friends encouraged him to become a serious painter. In the 1950s Blackbear began to polish his technical skills and to immerse himself in the history and beliefs of the Plains and Southwestern Indians. As he recovered his own past, he translated that history into paintings, which he exhibited at regional exhibitions such as the annual Indian Art Exhibit at the Philbrook Art Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. By the 1960s Blackbear’s work was being recognized nationwide and he opened his own Wichita enterprise, the Great Plains Studio. Blackbear assumed leadership in both Indian and civic affairs.

Blackbear Bosin spoke at the dedication of his sculpture:

“To the City of Wichita, KS, and all its people, it is with extreme pleasure and pride that I give this sculpture “Keeper of the Plains . . . This gesture of giving is not only typical of my people but is also a personal gesture to this city, which has been so kind to me. I sincerely hope that this sculpture will always be a reminder to all peoples that we all belong to the earth, our Mother, to the sun, our Father, and above all, to each other and to the Great Spirit”