The 100th anniversary of the Chief Keokuk monument will be observed Saturday in Rand Park with a blessing and re-dedication ceremony followed by a day-long celebration.
The celebration, which runs from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., is hosted by Standing Bear Council, The Thunderbird Society, Illiniwek Village of Missouri, Lee County Conservation Board, City of Keokuk and Keokuk Area Convention and Tourism Bureau.
The rededication and blessing of the 100-year-old monument is at 10 a.m. followed at 11 a.m. by Tanya Jones, a descendent of Chief Keokuk, who will talk about her famous forbearer.
Jones will present a handmade plaque constructed from cottonwood and other natural elements to Sarah Walker of Chillicothe, Mo., Chief Keokuk’s oldest living descendent.
More than 27 Keokuk descendants will be at the ceremony, according to Kirk Brandenberger, executive director of the tourism bureau.
“It will be a good time to get together,” Brandenberger said. “We’ll have a lot of vendors, a lot of things going on.
“We look forward to this unique opportunity to learn more about the origins of our city,” he added. “I hope visitors will take advantage of this terrific opportunity.”
The education tent will feature speakers throughout the day as well as storytelling, dancing and the drum by the Blackfox Singers.
Children’s games and traders’ booths will be set up at Rand Park.
Illiniwek Village of Missouri members will have displays as well as the Lee County Conservation Board. Conservation board officers also will offer information about archery during the day.
Activities are free.
The monument in Rand Park, which was refurbished and reinstalled in 1913 (the year Keokuk powerhouse and dam were completed) has incorporated the bones and skull of Chief Keokuk, according to Standing Bear Council member Larry Cooper of Hamilton, Ill.
However, the statue of the American Indian on the top of the monument is not a rendition of Chief Keokuk, but is a sculpture based on the Plains Indian.
“The flowing headdress on the statue is what the Plains Indians – like the Lakota – would wear,” Cooper said. “The Sac and Fox (the tribes that populated the Tri-State Area) would have worn feathers that stood up around their head.”
An actual portrait of Chief Keokuk in his later years hangs in Keokuk City Hall in city council chambers. Other paintings of Chief Keokuk also bear out Cooper’s description of the local headdress.
The early monument was a tall monolith in stone. Area youths once placed a cigar store Indian on top of the monument as a prank, Cooper said.
Call Brandenberger at 524-5599 for more information.