The Indian Museum of North America is home to an extraordinary collection of art and artifacts reflecting the diverse histories and cultures of the American Indian people. The museum, designed to complement the story being told in stone on the mountain, speaks eloquently to present and future generations about American Indian life.
The museum collection started out with single display donated in 1965 by Charles Eder, Assiniboine-Sioux, from Montana. Mr. Eder’s impressive collection remains on display in a place of honor in the Orientation and Welcome Center at Crazy Horse Memorial.
Close to 90 percent of the museum collection has been donated, both by Native Americans and non-Natives. Many individuals and families have decided that the Indian Museum of North America is where their American Indian artifacts and art should find a permanent home.
Korczak designed the Indian Museum of North America. He and his family built it during the harsh winter of 1972-73 when no work was possible on the mountain. In keeping with Korczak’s do-it-yourself philosophy, the family did all aspects of the construction, holding cost to a minimum. The museum incorporated Korczak’s love of wood and natural lighting. The museum was dedicated on Memorial Day, May 30, 1973 with 6 feet of snow on the ground.
In the early 1980s Korczak planned the new wings of the museum but did not live to see his plans realized. Under supervision of his wife, Ruth, the new wing was built in the winter of 1983-84 by family members and a small permanent building staff. Funding for this expansion came, in large part, from a $60,000 check left in the Crazy Horse contribution box in late August, 1983. The check cleared the bank on what would have been Korczak’s 75th birthday. The Michigan contributor said he was moved by the purpose of Crazy Horse, Korczak and his family’s great progress, and by the sculptor’s reliance on free enterprise and refusal to take federal funds.
The Indian Museum of North America serves as an excellent resource for both Indian and non-Indian students. They have an opportunity to study and learn from the displays and the many other cultural and educational resources at Crazy Horse. It gave Korczak and Ruth and their family great satisfaction to see visitors in the museum appreciating and learning from the beautiful artifacts. Today, Anne Ziolkowski Christensen capably manages all aspects of the Indian Museum of North America.