OSCAR HOWE, Crow Creek Sioux

Oscar Howe 1915-1983
Descended from Sioux Chiefs, he belonged to the Yanktonai band of Dakota, Howe began painting with the traditional Sioux straight line style, based on hide and later ledger paintings, an artistic form which symbolizes truth or righteousness and infused it with Cubism. Through his art, he wanted to portray the contemporary realities of his tribal culture .In 1958 he was rejected from a show of Native American art at the Philbrook Museum, because it did not meet the criteria of "traditional" Indian style. Howe wrote in protest, "Are we to be held back forever with one phase of Indian painting that is the most common way? Are we to be herded like a bunch of sheep, with no right for individualism, dictated to as the Indian has always been, put on reservations and treated like a child and only the White Man know what is best for him... but one could easily turn to become a social protest painter. I only hope the Art World will not be one more contributor to holding us in chains." This action led to the acceptance of abstraction within that community.