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Celebrating 80 Years - Native American History and the Power of Youth, 1974, Koshare Museum

Tags: #Celebrating80Years

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Boy Scouts, 1933


#Celebrating80Years: 2017 marked 80 years of working with Colorado’s nonprofits as they seek to strengthen their communities. Throughout 2018, we will be looking back on this history of the outstanding organizations and the people the Trustees have had the opportunity to support. On the blog you will find a history of the Foundation’s grant making and a representative organization from every year since our founding in 1937.


An early grantee in the Southeast region, the Koshare Museum promotes the art and history of the Native peoples of the American Southwest while also serving as a testament to the powerful impact that local youth can have on a community.



Grantee Spotlight:  Koshare Museum

Built in 1949, the Koshare Museum in La Junta is a three level museum on the Otero Junior College campus dedicated to the history of Plains and Puebloan Native American tribes. The museum’s structure has the largest self-supporting log ceiling in the world, and also an attached kiva (room used by Puebloans for religious and political meetings and rituals).

The museum itself owes its history to the Boy Scouts of Troop 232, who, along with their scoutmaster James Francis ‘Buck’ Burshears, became interested in Native American lore in 1933. In pursuing this interest they became the Koshare Dancers, and as they grew known for interpretive dancing, the troop decided to use the funds they had raised to build a round room inspired by Anasazi kivas. From there, they began to assemble the museum’s collection of artifacts with “debt, sweat equity, innovative thinking, and gifts from friends”— even purchasing artwork and artifacts with coins from a soda machine.

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Koshare Museum, today

To this day, the museum continues to honor its scouting legacy by serving as a troop meeting location, youth center, and overnight hostel for traveling scouts and youth groups. The tradition of the Koshare Dancers continues as well, now composed of boys and girls from the Boy Scouts, Venture Crew, and Middle School Explorer programs.

In addition to the world’s largest self-supported log ceiling, the museum’s collection also includes original art from founding members of the Taos and Santa Fe art colonies; and artifacts from the Anasazi and peoples of the Plains and Southwest.

The museum is open seven days a week in the summer, from 12-5pm and until 10pm on Saturdays in June and July.

El Pomar has provided 12 grants  since an initial capital grant in 1974, most recently through the Southeast Regional Council in support of its great work for preserving history, serving youth, and promoting the community of La Junta.




El Pomar in 1974:

$2.47 million was provided to 27 organizations in 1974. Major recipients of capital funding were the Colorado Springs Rodeo Association, Fountain Valley School, Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, Benet Hill Academy, and the Pioneers Museum Foundation of Colorado Springs. Funding to the South Park Historical Foundation in Fairplay and the Koshare Museum took grant making outside of the Front Range, and first time grantees included Young Life, Chins Up Youth and Family Services, the Koshare Indian Museum, and the High Flight Foundation. 


Images courtesy of Koshare Museum. 

Spotlight by Corey Baron