Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, holds a reputation as one of the best higher-educational institutions for Native American artists to attend. Today, Bacone College seeks to raise funds to properly house its vast art collections and restore buildings as well as honor key collegiate leaders who have left a permanent impression on its legacy, including Citizen Potawatomi Nation tribal member Woody Crumbo.
The institution kicked off its fundraising efforts on March 12 with the Bacone College Art Gala and Fundraiser in Oklahoma City.
“I am just honored that the Oklahoma History Center is hosting this event,” said Minisa Crumbo Halsey, Crumbo’s daughter and volunteer advocate for Bacone College.
“I am expecting the gala to be very supportive of Oklahoma art and artists as well as Bacone College.”
Halsey and other artists completed 12 by 12-inch paintings to auction at the event, and speakers addressed the various projects across campus the funds would support, including building renovations and art conservation as well as Bacone’s future goals.
“Woody, just like everybody else, he had learned different styles and different techniques that he brought to the school,” said Bacone College of Art Director Gerald Cournoyer. “Specifically, Woody came in, and his contribution was stained glass windows.”
Crumbo was also known for etchings, paintings, jewelry and more. While Bacone’s art program director from 1938 to 1941, he worked and taught in McCombs Hall. However, the building’s current condition is less than optimal for creating and storing art.
Funds will assist “furnishing with state-of-the-art equipment, general refurbish as well as renewing and restoring this historical building,” Halsey said.
“We will break ground on the process as soon as possible. Funds and support will be immediately applied.”
Plans include restoring Crumbo’s studio inside the building, conserving the college’s immense art collection, providing adequate storage facilities as well as setting aside additional support for student scholarships and recruitment.
Bacone College is working toward becoming an official tribal college, which requires tremendous oversight.
“We’re dotting the i’s and crossing our t’s as we send all of this paperwork not only to the American Indian Higher Education personnel but also to the Bureau of Indian Education,” Cournoyer said.
Staff are also working to educate potential students across Indian Country about Bacone’s programs and degree options.
“Oklahoma has 39 tribes, and some students don’t want to leave their tribal community, so we’re doing outreach programs,” Cournoyer said.
Halsey is optimistic about the positive changes occurring at Bacone College, and she hopes to help foster opportunities for Citizen Potawatomi students to follow in her father’s footsteps.
“Woody Crumbo paved the way so many years ago, and he’d be so happy to see Potawatomi attending,” she said.
Although the gala is over, Bacone College continues to raise funds, helping the institution return to its former glory. For information on how to assist, visit bacone.edu.