Raymond “Bud” Miller is a knowledgeable expert and avid collector of Ojibwe Art. He was born and raised in IL, but has spent every summer in Bemidji, MN, as well as earning his BA and MA at Bemidji State University. “It all began”, he explains, “when I was 6 years old and went to my first Pow Wow in Flanders, South Dakota.” He remembers being quite afraid of the noise from guns being shot into the air, drums beating and Indians dressed in traditional costumes whooping and hollering. Even though he ran back to the family car and hid inside for awhile, he sheepishly admits, his attention was captured. He wanted to learn all he could about the Indian traditions and their culture.
The very next week he became a regular at Daly’s Trading post in Bemidji and started his inaugural collection by purchasing a really cool Sioux chief for $1.98. Mr. Daly told me to ask him anything about Indians, and if he wasn’t busy he’d tell me. “I spent hours with him. He told me what was Sioux and what was Ojibwe. I further researched everything I learned about in the local library. I wrote book reports about Indians. I gave talks to small groups back in Illinois. A collector needs to know the history and cultural significance of what he collects.” Bud Miller had found his passion!
He began driving to the Red Lake Reservation as a teenager to buy Native American art. “I would take a couple thousand dollars in cash that I had earned over the winter selling cars at my dad’s dealership and start knocking on doors asking if they had any art work for sale. I would stay there until dark and then drive back to Bemidji. I never had a problem. I like the chase…looking for art…meeting the people…driving through the beautiful forest.”
Bud donated his first collection in the 1950’s, while still in his teens, to the Field Museum in Chicago. He is now well into his 5th collection. “I have been collecting for 66 years. I never sell…I just buy and collect. I know how much I paid for everything and that is what I get back if someone wants to own my collection or purchase their items back. It’s not my intent to make money or profit from collecting.”