Generous gift from Oscar Howe family to be used for The U’s Howe Museum, Native American Academic Center

VERMILLION, S.D. -- A generous gift from the family of Oscar Howe has been made in the artist’s name to The University of South Dakota. The College of Fine Arts and the University Art Galleries announced that they have received a $50,000 donation from Heidi Howe, the widow of Oscar Howe, and their daughter, Inge Dawn Maresh, in support of the legacy of the distinguished Native American artist.

The $50,000 gift will be used in the University’s pursuit of a Native American Museum and Academic Center. Presently in the planning stage, the Native American Academic Center will feature a museum dedicated to Howe’s legacy as well as additional gallery space for exhibits of contemporary Northern Plains Indian artists.

"The museum and academic center has great potential for connecting USD's many Native American academic activities and for creating a network with other institutions across the Northern Plains that are making significant contributions to Native American art and culture," stated John A. Day, director of the Oscar Howe Memorial Association and former director of University Art Galleries at USD.

Already home to the largest collection of Howe artwork in the world, USD exhibits selections from Howe’s collection year round in the Oscar Howe Gallery, which is located in historic Old Main. The Oscar Howe papers, located in the Special Collections section of the I.D. Weeks Library, is the largest archival holdings on the life and works of Howe, who is widely regarded as one of the greatest Native American artists of his generation and a leading figure in the Indian fine arts movement in the United States.

"The potential of this project is extraordinary for The University of South Dakota and will continue to recognize the artistic and educational achievements of Oscar Howe at USD during his 25 years in Vermillion," said Eddie Welch, director of the University Art Galleries. "The Oscar Howe collection of paintings at USD is one of the premier gems here on campus."

Once the project is reviewed by the campus community, the plan's approval will be addressed by the Board of Regents this spring. In addition to University Art Galleries and the College of Fine Arts, partners in this project include the Department of American Indian Studies, the Oral History Project of South Dakota, the Institute of American Indian Studies, I.D. Weeks Library, including the Herman P. Chilson Collection, and a digital repository that will allow USD to capture and preserve artists who have been an essential part of South Dakota’s cultural heritage.

"I'd like to thank the Howe and Maresh families for their gift that has allowed us to start the planning for this wonderful new center," said Daniel Guyette, dean of the College of Fine Arts. "We all look forward to the day when the dreams of many people will become a reality through this project."