The historic Native American Collection represents a strong, comprehensive collection based on its scope, quality and size. The highlight of the collection is the 20th Century Plains Indian art, primarily the Dakota, Nakota and Lakota tribes in addition to an extensive Southwestern Native American collection. The collection is comprised of over 1,100 objects that have been donated to the museum. The collection represents the creative spirit and culture of Native Americans from the region as well as across the United States. The Plains Indians are represented by the Dakota, Lakota and Nakota. Other tribal affiliations represented in the collection include Ojibwe (Anishinaabe), Navajo, Hopi and Pueblo.
Highlights of the Historic Collection
The Cathy and Ken Vogele Collection is comprised of both contemporary and historical works primarily from the Plains region, though also includes Athabaskan, Iglulingmuit, and Seminole works. Works include both quilled and beaded moccasins, dolls, cradles, toys, leggings, and a doctor’s bag.
The Ben Reifel Collection is comprised of Congressman Ben Reifel’s personal collection of American Indian objects, including a headdress, moccasins, pipes, bowls, and beaded clothing. Ben Reifel (1906-1990) was a longtime administrator with the Bureau of Indian Affairs in the Dakotas, and the first Lakota to serve in the United States House of Representatives.
The Pine Ridge Pottery Collection, a collection of almost 300 ceramics donated by Lila and Marion Nelson in 1994. In 1937, North Dakota-born Bruce Doyle (1908 – 1983) started Pine Ridge Pottery in the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Pine Ridge Pottery typically utilized red clay found on the Reservation, locally produced glazes, and featured geometric graffito designs. Many of the ceramics in the collection were produced by three of Doyle’s students: Ella Irving, Olive Cottier, and Bernice Talbot; Oglala Lakota sisters who operated the company from Doyle’s departure in 1942 until the early 1980s.
The Thorburn Collection, is a wide ranging collection which includes beaded book covers, moccasins, bags, stoles, dolls, watch fobs, a camera case, and more. Most of the collection was acquired as gifts given by the artists to Reverend Frank Thorburn and Abigail Thorburn during their time living and working as religious instructors on the Pine Ridge Reservation.
Contemporary Native Collection
In addition to the historic collection, collecting the work Contemporary Native artists has remained a priority of SDAM’s collecting practices since the museum’s opening in the 1970s. The contemporary art collection includes but is not limited to works by Oscar Howe, Keith BraveHeart, Jerry Fogg, John Gritts, SD Nelson, Herman Red Elk, Pablita Velarde, Francis Yellow, Dorothy Little Elk, Tim Lammers, Arthur Amiotte, Godfrey Broken Rope, Charles Her Many Horses, Robert Lee Penn, Andrew Standing Solider, Calvin Tyndall, Dwayne Wilcox, Jim Yellowhawk and Brian Akipa.