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Butch
Thunder Hawk

Cannonball, North Dakota, residing in Bismarck, ND

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About the Artist

Butch Thunder Hawk, Hunkpapa Lakota, is from Cannonball, a community on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.


Thunder Hawk spent much of his childhood and youth learning traditional Lakota culture and arts from his grandparents and from other tribal elders. Later he received formal artistic training at the California College of Art and Crafts in Oakland.


Thunder Hawk taught traditional tribal arts at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota for nearly five decades.


Thunder Hawk works in a variety of media, including Northern Plains Indian drawings. These drawings are many times called “Ledger Art.” They are drawn with colored pencil, crayons, and ink on old ledger

accounting book pages and old documents. These drawings depict war deeds, hunting exploits, courtship, ceremonies, and everyday life. The earliest ledgers were dated in the 1830’s and the Plains Indian War Period. “Ledger Art” is a way of preserving history.


"People taught me," Thunder Hawk says, "and now I have to give that back by teaching others." With guidance from tribal elders and assistance from his students, he created many objects for Monticello's recreation of President Jefferson's "Indian Hall."


Thunder Hawk currently resides in Bismarck.


In October 2022, Butch Thunder Hawk was named an ICON artist of The Capital Gallery for his longevity as an artist, the quality of his work, his contributions to the Gallery, and his far-reaching impact on the world of art.

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