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Wichita and Affiliated Tribes reacquire historic lands in Kansas

Aerial image of Wichita serpent mound, white and snaking across the grass
Walt Ellis Photography
The Coronado Quivira Museum
Aerial image of the Serpent Site

A giant snake is slithering in the tall grasses of Rice County, Kansas — 75 miles northwest of Wichita.

The limestone serpent stretches 160 feet within a 230-acre plot that formerly belonged to the Wichita people.

Cut into the sod over 600 years ago, and then later filled in with sedimentary rock, the effigy is believed to mark an intersection where ancestral Wichitas once lived and traded.

Now, once more, it belongs to the Wichita tribe, who purchased it in an auction last Friday.

“It is monumental for the Wichita Tribe to reclaim both a landmark and a portion of its ancestral homelands in Kansas,” Terri Parton, President of the Wichita Tribe, said in a news release. “Because our Wichita, Keechi, Waco, and Tawakoni ancestors were the original inhabitants of the land stretching from Wichita, Kansas, to Waco, Texas, it is exciting to have the opportunity to take back our history, preserve it ourselves, and educate the public about it.”

The tribe plans on preserving the serpent effigy as a historical landmark and is discussing using the adjacent lands to potentially open an educational center or start a sovereign farm or bison herd.

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Katie Hallum covers Indigenous Affairs at KOSU.
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