Yuthokeca is the Word in Lakota We Use to Describe Change; to Change Something; Transform Article

January 26, 2015

The INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® has grown immensely since the first donation of 65 pieces to the museum was made by Charles Eder. The first wing opened in 1973. The collection has grown to about 10,000 items through many generous donations from families and artists.

As places grow, they change as well. This past September, Janeen Melmer retired as the Director of Cultural Affairs and Museum Registrar. Janeen worked for Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation for over 20 years – starting in the gift shop. As Anne Ziolkowski realized Janeen's skill in archival work, she enlisted Janeen's help to organize and document the Library and Museum collection. Janeen's commitment to the care, development, and display of the Museum collection has made a strong foundation upon which to advance the Museum as we move forward. We will miss Janeen and her dedication to the Museum and the Memorial, but we know she is enjoying retirement.

Four months before Janeen's retirement, Crazy Horse Memorial hired Mary Bordeux as curator and cultural coordinator to learn from Janeen and to move into the position of Museum Curator and Director of Cultural Affairs. Mary is not entirely new to Crazy Horse – as a teenager, she worked at Crazy Horse Memorial when she was in high school and spent four summers working in the gift shop. The Museum was about half the size it is now, and at that young age, Mary had no idea she would be working in museums later in life.

When asked about her memories of Crazy Horse Memorial back then, Mary recalled cleaning the museum glass in the evenings and taking her time to admire the items there. She would wander about moving from case to case with a glass cleaner and a rag looking at the worn leather and the woven textiles. Back then, Mary spent a great deal of time cleaning the cases with moccasins in them, as they are a favorite of hers – any and all old moccasins. When she looked at them then and now, Mary thinks about the people who wore them, where they had been, and what life was like when they were made. If they could talk...the stories they could tell us!

Mary has spent the last fifteen years attending college, completing internships and honing her skill as a museum professional, and learning how to tell those stories. Mary noted, "It has been a long journey returning to the Indian Museum of North America® here at Crazy Horse. I am privileged to have this opportunity to care for and develop the Museum collections, and I am excited, beyond words, to be able to work with the displays in the Museum. I am lucky that Janeen did such a great job of documenting the current collection and preparing the museum for the future."

Donna Zopp, Collections Manager, has been with the Museum for a few years now. Donna has a deep understanding of the collections and is continually enhancing her skills to better care for the art and artifacts.

In addition to Donna, the Memorial employs Museum Assistant, Hillary Presecan. Hillary came to Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation from Anchorage, Alaska, where she recently completed a Smithsonian digital archiving internship with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Hillary's background in archiving and work with Native Alaskan communities adds depth and knowledge to the Museum's staff.

As the INDIAN MUSEUM OF NORTH AMERICA® moves forward, this team of Museum professionals will be part of an exciting transformation – Yuthokeca – to change something; transform!

Yuthokeca is the Word in Lakota We Use to Describe Change; to Change Something; Transform