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Friends of the Plains Indians


The Museum of the Plains Indian in Browning, Montana, was opened in 1941 with collections from over a dozen tribes living in the Northern Plains of the United States and Canada. The Museum was originally a part of the U. S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Indian Affairs Education program, and its first curator was Dr. John C. Ewers. Subsequent curators included Claude Schaeffer, Hugh Dempsey, and Thomas Kehoe. The Museum is federal property, as are its collections, though it is sited on land owned by the Blackfeet Nation.

In 1964 the Museum’s administration was transferred to the USDI’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board (IACB), which administers the program today under the oversight of the USDI Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs. The IACB is authorized by the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-644), which is primarily a truth-in-advertising law that prohibits misrepresentation in marketing of American Indian or Alaska Native arts and crafts products within the United States after 1935. In addition to the Museum of the Plains Indian, the IACB also manages the Sioux Museum within the Journey Museum in Rapid City, South Dakota, and the Southern Plains Museum in Anadarko, Oklahoma.

The Museum of the Plains Indian includes collections from these tribes, many of the artifacts having been collected in the early 20th century.

Assiniboine (Nakoda/Nakona)
Blackfeet (Amskapi Pikuni)
Cheyenne (Tse’tsehestahese)
Chippewa (Anishinabe)
Cree (Ne-iyah-wahk)
Crow (Apsaalooke)
Flathead (K’tanaxa, Qlispe, Sqeilo)
Gros Ventre (A’aniinen)
Nez Perce (Nimíipuu)
Sioux (Dakota, Lakota, Nakota)
Shoshone (Newe)

The Museum also has an invaluable collection of traditional and contemporary Northern Plains Native American art, and sponsors up to four exhibits by modern Native artists throughout the year. For additional information go to the Indian Arts and Crafts Board.