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Koshare Kiva

On the Beautiful OJC Campus

Kiva

The Koshare Indian Kiva is located on the Otero Junior College campus and is one of Colorado's premier attractions.

The Kiva, which is owned by the college, is unusual in that it was built by the La Junta Boy Scout troop under the inspired leadership of James Francis "Buck" Burshears, and the original 1949 structure is a registered state historic site of the Colorado Historical Society, housing a collection of Native American art and artifacts considered to be among the finest in the world. Today the Koshare Indian Kiva not only houses an impressive museum, but a first class gift shop, and of course the Kiva itself which provides the center stage for the world-famous Koshare Indian Dancers.

Museum Hours

  • Open Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat, Sun
    12:00 PM - 5:00 PM
  • Closed Tuesday & Thursday
  • On Show Nights, Open Until 9:00 PM

Museum Rates

  • Adults: $5.00
  • Students (7–17): $3.00
  • Seniors (55+): $3.00
  • Children (6 and under): Free

The Koshare Kiva - A Dream Come True

During a trip to Aztec National Monument in 1939, the Koshares heard the ranger tell the story of the prehistoric Indians who built the great ceremonial Kivas a thousand years ago. From that visit and other visits in 1941 and 1946, the boys resolved to invest surplus Koshare money in the building of a giant Kiva.

Building the Koshare Kiva

A Remarkable Room

When President Eisenhower visited the Koshare Kiva, he stated the ceiling was truly amazing as he stood at the center of the room and looked. Typically referred to as "the Kiva," the room is patterned after the kivas of the Southwest and is one of the most unique places to be found in America. The main reason for the uniqueness is that the building was built through the dedicated efforts of the Koshare Indian Dancers - a Boy Scout group. The Kiva, used as the performance area for the Koshare Indian Dancers, is what most visitors view as the featured piece of the Koshare Indian Museum. 

Kiva's self-supported log roof

Largest Self-Supported Log Roof in the World

Damon Runyon asked an engineer who helped design the Golden Gate Bride to help compute the stress factor of the logs. Runyon wore out three slide rules trying to figure out the stress factor for the logs and came to the conclusion that white pine poles would be the best solution for the weight. While sitting for tea, an experiment was conducted by putting toothpicks across a teacup in varying layers. Buck Burshears and the Kiva contractor, Carl Hendren, figured this would be the best way to place the logs in the actual roof. Most importantly they believed it was possible - even when most experts disagreed.

The Buffalo Hunt, by Native American artist Velino Herrera

The Atmosphere

Thanks greatly to these efforts the Kiva has been declared the most beautifully decorated Indian-type room in the world by no less than the Laboratory of Ethnology in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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