The Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center is located in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Visitors to the museum will learn about Lakota culture and history and the way contact with explorers affected them. The Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center was established on the St Joseph’s Indian School grounds in 1991.
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The name “Atka Lakota” which means “to honor the people” was picked because the museum’s goal is to preserve and honor the Lakota culture and its people.
The museum is located in an old school building in the shape of an octagon. It boasts fourteen thousand square feet of space for displays. The collection showcases artifacts and art and includes educational displays that show the Lakota’s proud heritage. Most of the original collection was gifted to the museum by alumni since the school’s opening in 1927. The Akta Lakota Museum is also home to a gallery specifically for local artists to show and sell their work.
The center is not just a traditional museum, but an experience offered to visitors with a demonstration of the way of life of Native Americans in the and today. The Atka Lakota and Cultural Center is a monument to the Sioux nation and provides visitors a unique and captivating look into the culture of the Lakota. Visitors embark on a graphic voyage through Sioux heritage and into modern day Sioux art.
Highlights and Exhibits
The Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center offers visitors a tour of it’s many highlights and exhibits promoting Lakota heritage.
Tour- The tour offered by the museum reflects the cardinal directions and colors.
· East: Camp Circle- This exhibit shows how life was on the plains before contact with Euro-Americans. It examines the historical relationships of bands and tribes and showcases artifacts from traditional culture.
· South: Two Worlds Meet- This exhibit highlights Euro-American explorers, traders, settlers, and missionaries and their arrival early in the 1800s.
· West: Broken Promises- This exhibit highlights the involvement of the United States government with the Sioux, treaties and their loss of land, and maps of present-day reservations.
· North: Continuity and Change- This exhibit shows how Native Americans were able to adapt to a new way of living life and preserve their heritage and customs.
Lakota Buffalo Days- This display is a diorama standing thirty-six feet constructed by Tom Phillips. It offers a grand view of prairie life starting from the Missouri River and ending at the Black Hills.
The Lakota Belief System- The museum includes interactive displays that highlight the symbolism of animals in the Lakota beliefs and offers several of their traditional stories for visitors to learn. Visitors can learn the stories and the meanings behind many of the ceremonial artifacts in the museum’s collection.
Daily Life- Through the use of audio and visual technology, the Center transports its visitors into the daily life of the Lakota.
Collector’s Gallery- This gallery features original paintings, sculptures and traditional crafts done by/and about the Lakota.
Outdoor Medicine Wheel Garden- The garden’s goal is to have a positive impact on the well-being of the students and alumni of St. Joseph’s Indian School. It incorporates sculpture and its spiritual and healing aspects, into the heart of the school. The garden offers visitors, students, and alumni a relaxing and inspiring break from daily life. The garden merges contemporary sculptures with traditional ones to create an atmosphere useful for both learning and healing.
Lakota Language- The museum strives to keep the language of the Lakota people alive. It offers a variety of ways for visitors to learn the basics of the language including and online archive and hosting Lakota Word Wednesday on Facebook and Instagram every week.
Lakota Legends- The Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center has edited several Lakota legends from original historical documents for the public to enjoy.
Lakota Prayers- Visitors can learn the Lakota prayers that are an essential part of traditional Lakota life.
Artist Biographies- The Center offers biographies on their website of the Native American artists that have contributed to their collections.
Chief Biographies- The museum offers biographies of several important Native American chiefs of the Great Plains on their website.
Seven Lakota Rites- Visitors can learn about the seven Lakota Rites and their significance of life as Lakota.
Visitors have two options when shopping for souvenirs, gifts, and mementos from their trip.
Gift Shop- Visitors are invited to shop at the giftshop which highlights a unique assortment of star quilts, dolls, jewelry, cards, books, baskets, prints, pottery, dreamcatchers, moccasins, sweet grass, sage and more.
Collector’s Gallery- Visitors can visit the gallery and buy original works by local Native American artists.
1301 North Main Street, Chamberlain, SD 57325, Phone: 800-798-3452