Rotating Historical Exhibits at CWS

Female students at Stephan, SD, on the Crow Creek Reservation perform a parasol drill in 1898. A large portion of images in the collection received from Blue Cloud Abbey relate to Indian boarding schools in the Dakotas, particularly those at the Benedictine missions in Stephan and Marty, SD, and St. Michael and Belcourt, ND.

The Center has several display cases throughout the galleries that exhibit materials on a variety of changing themes. The current exhibits are:

A Few among 80,000: The Blue Cloud Abbey Image Collection

Blue Cloud Abbey was a Catholic monastery near the small town of Marvin, SD. It was founded in 1950 as a base of operations for Benedictine missionaries, a group whose work with the American Indian communities in the Dakotas stretched back to 1876. Since 1967, the abbey also housed the American Indian Culture Research Center (AICRC), a museum and research institution founded by Father Stanislaus Maudlin, a founding member of Blue Cloud Abbey and passionate supporter of Native American culture. The AICRC maintained collections of Indian art, artifacts, library materials, and a very large image collection depicting the work of the Benedictine missionaries among the tribes, particularly in the areas of education and spiritual guidance. Due to a lack of new members, the brothers voted to close the abbey in 2012 and the collections of the AICRC were moved to the Center for Western Studies. A number of artifacts from the collection are featured in our "Voices of the Northern Plains" core exhibit, and we are excited to present this sneak peek at materials in the image collection, highlighting its potential for scholarly, genealogical, and artistic pursuits. The vestments of Father Maudlin, painted and beaded for him by the Indian women of one of the churches he served, are also on display.

Native American (Peyote) Church

Organized in 1918, the Native American Church (NAC) uses peyote for sacramental purposes. Peyote is a small, bitter-tasting cactus plant of the Southwest. The peyote “buttons,” the exposed portions of the plant’s clusters, are eaten during an all-night prayer meeting. Peyote practitioners gather inside a tipi around a fireplace where they sing and are led in prayer by a “roadman,” who is sometimes accompanied by an NAC priest. This display contains liturgical objects used or worn in Peyote Prayer Meetings, including gourd rattles, a hawk feather fan, and stole. They were donated by peyote fireplace keeper Herbert T. Hoover to commemorate the modern Native American cultural renaissance in Sioux Country.

Native American Observations of Weather and Climate

The Center for Western Studies is the first location to debut this new interactive traveling exhibit produced by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the U.S. Geological Survey. The exhibit discusses the history of Plains Indian winter counts and how scientists today are using symbols from historic counts to improve our understanding of the region’s climatological past. The content is most fitting, given that a reproduction of Red Horse Owner's winter count is prominently featured in the Center's Froiland Plains Indian Gallery. Collections Assistant Liz Cisar and Education Assistant Kristi Thomas also assisted the project’s staff, based at Earth Resources Observation and Science (EROS) Data Center, with the research and design of the exhibit. 

Tossing Their Hats in the Ring: Political Campaign Memorabilia of Yesteryear

In honor of this year's exciting election season, this exhibit features a selection of political campaign memorabilia from the Center for Western Studies collections spanning the years 1860-2008. There are materials representing party platforms, particular issues, and specific candidates at the national, state, and county levels. There are materials from winning campaigns and from losing campaigns. But all received support from American citizens who cast their votes in hope of a better future.

Looking Back: Augustana in the 1970s

The 1970s was an interesting time at Augustana. Students partook in political activism, housing policies on campus changed, and new traditions intermixed with old. This exhibit, based on research conducted by CWS intern Cara Beck, includes photographs of anti-Vietnam War protests, the annual “Nude Night” event, the implementation of coed dorms, and various traditional activities as published in the student yearbook and newspaper. 

World War II Morale Posters from the Sioux Falls Army Air Forces Technical School

Between 1942 and 1945, around 45,000 men and women received training in radio mechanics at an Army Air Forces Technical School in Sioux Falls, SD. This case displays several morale posters created by the school's Drafting and Reproduction Division. The posters were designed by local base personnel and reflect their attitudes about international events as well as the radio mechanics training students received. They were donated by the family of William B. Mauschbaugh, a leader in the Drafting and Reproduction Division at the Sioux Falls school.

There are exhibits on permanent themes in addition to those listed above.