The Kawatche Caves are a series of underground caverns that was once inhabited by the Kawatche First Nation. They are located in an area near Miller's Bend, in Smallville, Kansas. Additionally, they house a large Kryptonian database and much Kryptonian technology; as depicted in the television series Smallville, the caves served as a main location for Clark to learn about his heritage and "destiny". Thus far, the caves have only appeared in early seasons of Smallville.
Five hundred years ago, the Kawatches were visited by a Kryptonian. This visitor made an impression on the Kawatche and became a major part of their tribal heritage. The Kawatche painted glyphs on the cave walls to commemorate their encounter with the man from the stars. This being was depicted of a story about a strange visitor from another planet, as well as prophesies of another visitor called Naman and his sworn enemy Sageeth, who was once like a brother to Naman.
Somewhere along the way, the Kawatche Caves came to contain an intricate high-tech storage system containing Kryptonian knowledge. At the time of the Meteor Shower of 1989, Lindsey Harrison was found by the artificial entity programmed as Jor-El, and taken into a pocket dimension of the Phantom Zone to be reprogrammed as Kara of Krypton.
In 2002, while motocrossing with Pete Ross, Clark Kent's bike broke through apparently weak earth, and he tumbled hundreds of feet down into what turned out to be an unknown area of the Kawatche Caves. Kyla Willowbrook, who happened to be in the caves doing research for her grandfather, heard the commotion Clark caused and came over to tend to his injuries. After she realized he was unharmed, Kyla and Clark looked at the cave walls together. The walls were adorned with paintings and strange symbols that Clark recognized to be Kryptonian, although Clark was unaware of how to read the alien language at the time.
In light of the petition drive to save the cave led by Lana Lang and Henry Small, the state was depicted to exercise the Historic Artifacts Amendment and buy LuthorCorp out at 30 cents on the dollar. Lex Luthor secured the contract for the preservation for the entire area surrounding the caves.
One of the walls in the cave had an octagonal keyhole for The Key. The keyhole was surrounded by a pattern of Kryptonian symbols; this pattern of symbols was later changed by Dr. Frederick Walden so that it now read: "The day is coming when the last son will begin his quest to rule the third planet."
By inserting The Key into the hole, Clark learned how to read Kryptonian symbols. Jonathan Kent later used The Key to establish contact with Jor-El. A few months later, the infamous Starblade was discovered in the Kawatche Caves.
Later, the cave walls opened to bring Clark into Jor-El's pocket dimension so that Clark could be reprogrammed as Kal-El and begin searching for the Stones of Power. Inside a secret chamber in the caves was a stone altar on which the stones were placed to be hidden from intruders. Later, to converse with Jor-El, Clark would place The Key into the altar and find himself in a blue stream of energy with Jor-El.