The Wichita and Affiliated Tribes Reacquire Historically and Culturally Significant Property Within Ancestral Homelands

May 24, 2024 | Wichita Tribal News

For Immediate Release

May 24, 2024

This week, the Wichita and Affiliated Tribes (Wichita, Keechi, Waco, and Tawakoni) (“Wichita Tribe”), with important financial support from the Wichita Tribe Industrial Development Commission, closed on a real estate transaction transferring to tribal ownership a 230-acre agricultural property, known colloquially as the Serpent Site, in Rice County, Kansas.  In doing so, the Wichita Tribe expands its land base within its ancestral homelands while securing a landmark of immeasurable historical and cultural significance.

The Serpent Site, so named on account of a 160-foot-long effigy carved a few inches deep into the ground in the shape of a serpent, is an enduring Wichita landmark.  Specifically, the serpent mark was created by the Quiverans, ancestral Wichita people living around a massive city site known as “Quivera” between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries, estimated to have housed upwards of 200,000 ancestral Wichita people at the city’s height.  The serpent is estimated to be no less than 600 years old, and archeologists suspect the landmark designated an intersection and post within the Wichita long-distance trading network.

“It is monumental for the Wichita Tribe to reclaim both a landmark and a portion of its ancestral homelands in Kansas,” said Terri Parton, President of the Wichita Tribe.  “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.”

Since its modern rediscovery in 1983, the Wichita Tribe has visited the Serpent Site multiple times prior to this week’s purchase.  Notably, in May 2014, President Parton, along with former tribal president and now current Tribal Historic Preservation Officer Gary McAdams, led a Wichita delegation to visit the site.  Underscoring the cultural significance of the effigy, Mr. McAdams wrote of his time:  “Standing there, serenaded by the songs of the meadowlark and other grassland birds, all seems right with the world.”

The Wichita Tribe intends to preserve the serpent landmark as a tribal historic site, and has currently initiated internal discussions regarding best use of the adjacent land, which may include an interpretative center for tribal member and public cultural education efforts, a culturally consistent farm aimed at promoting food sovereignty, or a tribally managed bison herd.

The Wichita Tribe is governed by an Executive Committee, currently consisting of President Terri Parton, Vice President Jarrod Prince, Treasurer Claudia Spybuck, Committee Member Gage Boardingham, Committee Member Tiffany Lonewolf, and the late Committee Member Shirley Davilla.  The majority of the Executive Committee are also currently serving on the Wichita Tribe Industrial Development Commission.  The Wichita Tribe consists of approximately 3,800 members whose ancestors have called present-day Oklahoma their homelands since time immemorial.  The Wichita Tribe’s reservation is located in western Oklahoma, north of Anadarko.

For more information, contact:

Terri Parton, President
Wichita and Affiliated Tribes
P.O. Box 729
Anadarko, OK  73005
(405) 247-2425
terri.parton@wichitatribe.com