The Heritage Center

The collection, preservation and exhibition of fine art is important to historical understanding, and appreciation, for what has come before. The fine art of all Native Americans, and the tribal art of the Lakota, serve as an extremely valuable cultural resource, both for Native Americans and those who seek to better know them.

The basics

There may not be an equivalent in many Native American languages for the word art.

Much of what is considered Native American art today simply existed as functional, practical or even spiritual pieces. For many Native peoples, beauty arises from living in harmony with Grandmother Earth, and takes many forms in accordance to those changes. Fine art, then, as it relates to Native Americans, may be described as the beauty of looking into Native American identity and culture.

The mission of The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School is to collect, preserve and exhibit the fine and tribal arts of Native Americans. The Center concentrates on the fine arts of all Native Americans, and the tribal arts of the Lakota. It promotes the arts of Native Americans to bring a greater appreciation of their culture.

A unique position

Identity and culture are intimately associated. For Red Cloud Indian School and its students, parishioners, and guests, a strong identity is grounded in Lakota culture and tradition. The Heritage Center showcases the rich culture and past of the Lakota in its gallery and annual art show. The Heritage Center got its start in 1968 as the Red Cloud Indian Art Show, with a founding purpose of showcasing the talent and skills of local Native American artists on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, and to afford these artists an entrance into the art world.

The Heritage Center offers to the public—local, national and international—an outstanding collection of Native American fine arts and Lakota tribal arts, located on the main campus of Red Cloud Indian School. It is one of the early successful museums located on an Indian reservation.

In 1997, The Heritage Center merged with Red Cloud Indian School and became a department of the overall institution, which includes not only The Heritage Center but also three schools that serve over 600 Lakota students. 


The Heritage Center welcomes many visitors each year to its gallery, and provides a glimpse into Lakota identity, culture, and history. Its many pieces, an array of mediums and styles, are indicative of not only the past, but also the future, and certainly break many stereotypes about Native Americans. Results of the program include:

  • A gallery of rich culture and history that serve to educate the 600 K-12 students at Red Cloud Indian School, and other Native American students, about their heritage; 
  • A gift shop that also serves as a way for Native Americans on the reservation to sell their works each year, from star quilts to beadwork; 
  • A place to showcase the talent, identity, and beauty of Native American artists, both historic and modern; 
  • A location in the heart of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation where Lakota culture is celebrated; and, 
  • An annual art show that draws approximately 10,000 visitors each year.

Help champion this initiative

Contribute to the success of this initiative by making a gift online or calling our Advancement Office at 605/867-1105 ext. 300 to learn more about how your family or foundation can partner with us.