MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST AND HIS ART

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   I enjoy taking part in Native American art shows and supporting art auctions for children's groups like Parents Let's Unite for Kids (PLUK) in Billings, MT. I've also been able to travel to many schools to show my artwork and play my flutes for the students.  I talk about the importance of finding and sharing the unique talents and gifts the Creator has given each of us.  

   The Creator has been extremely gracious to me including keeping me alive when I was born three months premature, healing me from Grave's disease when I was thirty-one, and keeping me safe when a crazed drifter trespassed into my 8' x 10' drive through espresso kiosk and tried to strangle me.  The close relationship that I have with the Creator has given me the faith to set outrageous goals for myself and has given me something wonderful to share with people who ask about my artwork.

   I am a direct descendant of the great Cheyenne war chief, Lame Whiteman, who led the Suicide Warriors and was the only Cheyenne chief to die in the Battle of the Little Bighorn.  I am blessed to have two of my masterpieces hanging at the Souring Eagle Heritage Center in Ashland, MT (built and run by Father Emmett Hoffmann) where many of my tribal elders live.  The portraits are of Cheyenne warrior chiefs Littlewolf and Morning Star who together with Iron Teeth Woman led the Northern Cheyenne people back to Montana from imprisonment in Indian Territory and Fort Robinson, Nebraska.  My Cheyenne elders enjoy seeing them and remembering the great sacrifices that were made while our ancestors fought for our homeland that we will keep forever!

   Creating and selling artwork in this geographic area has opened my eyes to the hourds of exceptionally talented artists who live in poverty and isolation on reservations where there is about 80% unemployment and the financial and economic situation has remained the same for generations.  My understanding that the Creator doesn't want us to look at our worldly circunstances, but wants us to have faith that he has already finished the perfect story for each of our lives, has enabled me to dream impossible dreams for all people in indian country.

   Father Emmett Hoffmann from the St. Labre indian mission school in Ashland, MT and all that he has done for the Cheyenne and Crow people for more than fifty years has inspired my latest dream of building a sustainable, eco friendly, solar and wind powered, "off the grid" art studio and gallery that would be free for the public and the artists and be a safe environment for everyone who wants to come and learn and teach and create and fellowship.  I would like to provide all of the materials and equipment that someone might need to create artwork.  Creating art of all kinds; beadwork, painting, drawing, sculpture, music, stories, cooking, woodworking, etc. will be possible for local people.  Reinstilling a sense of value and selfworth is one aspect of the art studio.  Unity for all people will be another aspect of the studio, bringing old together with young, Cheyenne together with the Crow, and indians together with non indians.  It will bring a healing to our land, an understanding of one another, a sense of community that is no longer here.

   Poverty on reservations has kept our spirits down and our focus on ourselves.  Many local artists, because of their financial situations, are unable to begin new projects or unable to pass down traditional arts.  I know elders who want to teach their art skills but their children and grandchildren are not interested in learning them.  There are also youngsters who want to learn art skills that their parents or grandparents don't have.  This studio gallery would give the public a place to come and learn or teach art skills.  People would be able to come and use our supplies and equipment.  We would be able to help the artists create and sell their creations.  They would not be able to take their projects home to work on them but would be welcome to come in anytime and work.  When they make some progress on their pieces we would document it and keep a record of the time they spent at the studio.  When they leave we would lock up their project and keep it safe until they were able to come in and put in some more time.  We would create a profile on each person who takes part and when they finish a project we would have it on display for sale in our gallery and available to the world on our website.  The studio would take 25% and the artist would take 75% and the general public would be able to track how many projects each artist has started and completed at the studio.  The studio would benefit from having the artists be present for the public to see and talk to and learn from. 

   I want to empower all people.  Everything on these reservations has been the same for generations and I've noticed when I speak to the young people that they don't want to go away to college to learn skills that they cannot use to support their families at home.  They do not want skills that will require them to leave their huge extended families.  Many people young and old have lost hope and have turned to drugs and alcohol or abusive relationships to survive.  I want to give young people hope for the future and a place to make and sell their work and inspire others.

My great (7 generations) grandfather Chief Lame Whiteman, or Ve'ho'enohnenehe, was a war chief who fought at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, June 25, 1876 where he gave his life for his people. He was a Southern Cheyenne who camped with Black Kettle's band and like Black Kettle, survived the Sand Creek Massacre November 29, 1864 in Colorado. He had a vendetta against the "long knife soldiers" and came north to join his Northern Cheyenne Brothers. He was the only chief in Cheyenne history to sit on the chiefs' council with the Northern Cheyenne and the Southern Cheyenne. He was also known as Bearded Man (to the Lakota) and Mad Hearted Wolf ("Hahk o ni"). He was the husband of Twin Woman and father to Red Hat and Crane Woman. One of his grandsons was Northern Cheyenne Tribal historian John Stands In Timber, author of "Cheyenne Memories." Lame Whiteman's martial prowess when battling the “White Man” was so prodigious that his contemporaries honored him with names that signified what happened to “White” soldiers when they came face to face with him. Their intestinal fortitude became so meager that they could offer no more resistance than a cripple or were inclined to walk away rather than fight...

Below is the marker of great Cheyenne war chief, Lame Whiteman, who led the Suicide Warriors and was the only Cheyenne chief to die in the Battle of the Little Bighorn

Red granite headstones honoring them include both their Cheyenne names and translations supplied by Linwood Tall Bull. Each bears the inscription:

"A Cheyenne warrior fell here on June 25, 1876, while defending the Cheyenne way of life.''

EMAIL : jon.beartusk@gmail.com

Nobody talked openly about the "Suicide Warriors'' until almost 90 years after the Battle of the Little Bighorn.