The Frisco Native American Museum

The Frisco Native American Museum was created as an educational foundation. It’s purpose is to preserve the culture, artifacts and art of Native Americans. The founders made the necessary sacrifices using limited resources to create the museum. They devoted their lives to being the keepers of the heritage.

The museum is in Frisco, a small village on Hatteras Island on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The journey involves a little off beat path that is definitely worth every mile.

The Founders

Carl Bornfriend developed a deep appreciation for Native American culture. He was a young man when he made the discovery that would go on to become his life’s work. He met Joyce when he moved out to Hatteras Island and they married in 1986. Joyce shared his passion for all things Native American. Together, they took to creating one of the greatest odes to the culture in the form of a museum.

Carl and his wife were teachers by profession. They used every spare moment towards efforts that led to the 1987 opening of the museum. The museum doubles as a non-profit foundation in the form of a museum. The building dates back as far as 1880. It was used as a post office, a general store, a shell shop and may have been a gathering place at some point.

During the first few years, , the museum would open from Friday to Sunday while schools were open. This is because the founding couple still had their hands full with teaching. It was open throughout the week during summer breaks. A couple of years later, Carl was unable to teach full time due to his failing health. They were then able to open the museum six days a week through the year.

The museum includes a natural trail that winds into a nearby maritime forest. That the founders were able to get this land is a miracle in itself. The tract is a wonderful addition to what is already quite a breathtaking experience.

Notable Renovations

Some of the notable expansions of the museum include the following;

1991: Construction of a pavilion along the nature trail

1995: Building a two-story addition. Following Hurricane Emily, the museum filled with about three feet of water. It led to the need of this addition.

2005: Relocation of the gift shop and addition of a small book store

2010: Redesigning a section of the nature trail into a dance circle. This effort was in honor of some of the dance traditions of Native Americans.

These renovations allowed the museum to create more space for display space. It was also able to place itself among the top historical attractions in the Outer Banks.


Carl already had a considerably impressive collection of art and culture by the time he was 15. He collected pottery fragments, arrowheads, animal bones. His early collections included anything he considered beautiful or of having artistic value. He developed an incredible ability to discern the beauty and value of items. Carl used this talent to identify and get valuable Native American artifacts. His finds were all for the museum. Most of the artifacts came from his personal collection.


The Frisco Native American Museum offers guided tours and various programs. The programs are tailored to enhancing knowledge of the culture of Native Americans. It offers valuable information for schools, scouts and community. They also help senior groups who wish to expand their natural history knowledge.


The museum offers a wide selection of informative and educational programs for all. Some of the programs offered during the summer are;

1. Talking Sticks at 2p.m.
The talking stick was a tool used by Native Americans during a tribal council. The person who had the talking stick was the only one allowed to address the rest of the council.

This program will have participants make their own version of the talking stick. They also learn how it was used centuries ago by Hatteras Island natives.

2. Hatteras Island Original Inhabitants: Croatoans at 3 p.m.
The Croatoans were some of the first people to live in Hatteras Island and the Outer Banks in the 1500s.

This program teaches participants about the Croatoans. It uses archaeological evidence discovered from their time on the islands. It explores what life was like for them in that period. The program is a great learning tool of natural history.

More Attractions

The grounds hold a small observation room, a floating dock along the nature trail, a gift shop and a bird yard.

The Graveyard of the Atlantic is another wonderful option to the Frisco Museum. It is a natural history museum, much like Frisco. It was built in honor of more than 2,000 shipwrecks that sunk off the coast of North Carolina, right in the Outer Banks. It is an amazing structure filled with art and culture beyond comparison.

The Frisco Native American Museum is open from Tuesday to Sunday. You can visit on Mondays only by appointment. You can find seasonal schedules on their website. The Bornfriends managed to make the Frisco Museum a cultural and educational center. They did this by putting Native American art and culture at the forefront.

Planning on Traveling Throughout Eastern North Carolina?

Don’t miss our complete list of other sites and attractions in our main article here:  The Historic Albemarle Trail.

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