For years, I’ve been interested in Pelathe, a Native American scout who rode from Kansas City to Lawrence in a desperate but unsuccessful attempt to warn the residence of William Quantrill’s impending raid on the city. The most information I’ve been able to find about him comes from an entry in an encyclopedia of Kansas from 1912.
There was also a “Pelathe Center” in Lawrence, Kansas that served local Native American’s, but it has changed it’s name to the Four Winds Native Center. They probably have much more information about the life of Pelathe, but I could not find anything online. Maybe I should consider doing some more research, but in the meantime….
I have often thought it would be wonderful if the city of Lawrence would commission a sculpture of the man, to be placed across the river from downtown in North Lawrence. I envision of bronze stature set atop the levee, of a man, exhausted and distraught but dignified, looking with remorse across the river towards downtown. The look on his face might show both the anguish of being late to save the city, but also the pride in Lawrence’s rebirth and growth since the Border War.
As part of the history lesson, it would also be nice to honor the horse that died carrying Pelathe towards Lawrence. I could think of a couple places a statue of a proud, but exhausted horse might work in North Lawrence, one is Lyon Park, the other near the boat ramp/mountain bike trail off of 8th and Oak Street.
Two artists that I would suggest for this work would be either Elden Tefft or Jim Brothers, but I’m certainly open to suggestion. It would be especially poignant and appropriate if Native American sculptors could be commissioned to do the work, but I am not familiar enough with active artists to know who to suggest. Or a Kansas sculptor would also be nice other than the two mentioned earlier.