Rare Arikara artifacts displayed

Farm Forum

Rare Arikara artifacts collected by late historians Howard and Kathryn Loitwood are on display through November at the Dakota Sunset Museum in Gettysburg.

The Loitwoods and their children collected thousands of artifacts left behind by the Arikara Indian villages located along the Missouri River west of Gettysburg between 1925 and 1965. These earthen lodge villages were located along the river bottomland between Pierre and Mobridge in the years 1250 to 1823 A.D.

The Loitwoods, who were well-known historians and avid collectors, were recognized, in 1991, by the South Dakota State Historical Society for their dedicated work . At that time, Howard and Kathryn Loitwood were presented the “Robinson Award for Lifetime Achievement.” When Howard died in 1989 and Kathryn in 1994, their children inherited the collection.

When the Loitwoods passed away, the artifacts were stored in numerous cigar and shoe boxes. In 1995, their daughter, Diana Loitwood Webb, and her husband, Bernie Webb, began sorting, researching, mounting and framing the assortment of artifacts. Years were spent making the framed panels.

Loitwood Webb, a talented artist who attended the University of South Dakota as an art major, passed away in 2006. Her artwork continues on in the intricately designed panels of Arikara artifacts.

Federal law, effective Oct. 31, 1979, prevents anyone from collecting Native American artifacts like the Loitwoods did from 1925 to 1965, but their exhibits are legally “grandfathered in” and well-documented in the South Dakota archives.

Eight of the unique mounted frames on display contain arrowheads, fish hooks, beads and bones. Also exhibited are pottery shards, buffalo bone hide-scrapers, hammers, stones and a rare beaded necklace and bracelet.

The Dakota Sunset Museum is open from 1 to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Admission is free.

For more information, call 605-765-9480 or email at dakotasunset@venturecomm.net.