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1968 – 1978

On campus, Jesuit Theodore “Ted” Zuern (1921–2007) became president of Red Cloud in 1968. As an educator, Father Ted had long recognized the need to further integrate Lakota culture, language, and art into campus life—an instinct which led him to collaborate with Robert “Bob” Savage to organize the inaugural Art Show. That first show was modest and informal—but it accomplished something groundbreaking. By allowing “any American Indian 14 years or older” to enter, it encouraged young artists just beginning their careers to share their artistic vision alongside more seasoned and professional artists. Red Cloud’s campus bookkeeper, the incomparable Brother C.M. Simon, S.J., took on the task of managing future Art Shows, a role he would hold for decades to come.


1978 – 1988

On Red Cloud’s campus, Brother Simon continued to manage the show’s growth, working tirelessly to promote Lakota and other Native art. Instantly recognizable with his traditional black robes, beard, and pipe, Brother Simon developed strong bonds with local Lakota artists and continued to purchase and sell their work on campus, creating a much needed source of income for the reservation. Ultimately, he amassed an extensive collection of paintings, drawings, and sculptures by Lakota and other diverse Native artists. As the need for dedicated space became clear, plans for The Heritage Center began to take shape. Its gallery doors finally swung open in 1982, just in time for the 14th Red Cloud Indian Art Show.


1988 – 1998

On campus, The Heritage Center’s gift shop grew as Brother Simon purchased and sold beadwork, quillwork, parfleche, and more to spur economic opportunities for the artist community on the reservation. Although a devastating 1996 fire forced The Heritage Center to close its gallery space for two years, the Red Cloud Indian Art Show continued to grow and attract new artists. 


1998 – 2008

In 2003, The Heritage Center launched its own efforts to research and catalog its growing permanent collection. Mary V. Bordeaux (Sicangu Lakota), a museum studies graduate of the Institute of American Indian Arts, was hired to manage the work of identifying, tracing, and studying the collection’s estimated 3,000 pieces of artwork. Director Peter Strong came on board in 2005. The cataloging process, which employed as many as twenty-three interns at one time, was largely completed in 2009, and the team revealed The Heritage Center actually held closer to 10,000 pieces.

Brother Simon, who had led the development of the Art Show and The Heritage Center programs for almost four decades, unexpectedly passed away in 2006. Bordeaux stepped into the role of curator, with an aim to protect and grow his legacy and to help The Heritage Center grow into a hub of forward-looking Native art and creativity.


2008 – 2018

In the midst of that work, the Red Cloud Indian Art Show deepened its long-standing mission: to create opportunities for all Native artists to show their work and share their voice. By bringing new visitors to Pine Ridge, creating traveling exhibitions for galleries and museums, and developing cutting-edge arts education programs, it allows new audiences to experience the power of Lakota and other Native art. And with each passing decade, through the Red Cloud Indian Art Show, it continues to celebrate each new generation of Native artists and gives them a platform to share their work with the world.