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Location:

9151 I-40 East
Amarillo, Texas 79120
(806) 335-3175

MAILING ADDRESS:

MAIL CANNOT BE DELIVERED TO PHYSICAL ADDRESS

P.O. Box 32125
Amarillo, TX 79120-2125

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 



 

Museum hours...


Winter hours:  September - May

Saturday & Sunday, 1 PM - 5PM
 

Summer hours: June - August

    Wednesday through Sunday, 1 PM - 5PM

  (until 10PM on show nights)

         Museum admission:  Adults:   $5.00      Youth:  $3.00

About the Kwahadi Museum of the

American Indian

     The museum exhibits gives visitors a glimpse into the cultures of the people of the Pueblos and Plains. The museum displays fine paintings, bronzes, fine old beadwork and material culture items.

     The Kwahadi Kiva Indian Museum features the works of the late artist and author, Thomas E. Mails.  As a child, his grandfather in Colorado would draw stick figures of his memories of the Indian people of Colorado.  From this early beginning, Tom developed his passion as an artist and his abiding interest in the old ways of the American Indian.

     Mr. Mails served as a Coast Guard officer during WWII, became an architect, and later attended seminary to become a Lutheran pastor.  Throughout those times, he continued to collect old medicine items and artifacts from various pawn shops and stores during a time when there was little interest in native ways.  He became very interested in the various societies of the Plains people.

     He 1970, a major book publisher happened across Tom in a pawn shop, was intrigued by his drawings and knowledge, and suggested Tom put his work into a book.  This resulted in the first of Tom’s 14 books on Native Americans, Mystic Warriors of the Plains.   The book was first published in 1972 and is a magnificent book profusely illustrated by Tom.  Kevin Costner used the book as source material for his movie, Dances with WolvesMystic Warriors and most of Tom’s books are still in print in various languages around the world.  

     Tom was a natural artist with a keen eye for detail and a disciplined mind for research.  Native people perceived his understanding and deep respect for their ways, and his book was well-received by Native people.   The phone soon began to ring as elders of other tribes asked him to tell their stories.  Their own young people were not interested in the old ways, and they wanted Tom to help them record their knowledge.  This began a thirty year journey for Tom that would consume the rest of his life.  He spent extensive time with those who wanted him to write for them, added his own extensive research, and beautifully illustrated books on the Apache, Cherokee, and Pueblo people.  He became good friends with Frank Fools Crow, a Sioux elder and healer.  Tom was amazed by his times with Frank and told his story in Sundancing on the Rosebud, Fools Crow, and Sacred Native American Pathways.

     Tom befriended the Kwahadi program in 1986 during a seminar in Amarillo hosted by Clara Webb of Webb Galleries of Amarillo and Santa Fe.  His interest in the Kwahadi program for youth ultimately led to his gifting of a hundred of his fine paintings, many artifacts, 3000 books, 5000 photographs from his journeys with Native folk, and all of his original manuscripts, research notes, and prime sources.  This core of his life’s work is preserved at the Kwahadi museum.  His beautiful and insightful paintings, many used for illustrations in his books, are on display along with numerous related cultural items.

     The museum also features an extensive collection of the bronze castings of Tom Knapp.  Tom was a Disney artist who became a master at capturing the spirit, dress, and style of Native Americans.  Mr. Walter Raleigh, a former gallery owner and bronze caster from Ruidoso, New Mexico cast the bronze works for Tom Knapp and kept one of each for his fee.  His valuable collection is on display at the Kiva.  Individual pieces are available for sale, a unique opportunity for discriminating collectors.