Sioux Indian Series

These paintings were inspired by Kevin Costner’s magnificent movie —  “Dances with Wolves”. Max, who always had written Native Americans off as being drunks and slobs, was extremely impressed. In fact, we saw that movie several times before he decided to paint a series on the Sioux Indian tribe.

At that time we were going to Minnesota and South Dakota often — to see Max’s daughters. We decided that we would like to spend some time exploring the reservation where Dances with Wolves was filmed — Rosebud in South Dakota. As usual, I did some research, and Max did the driving and the painting! The books I read indicated that all was not well in Pine Ridge, the reservation that borders Rosebud. It also revealed that the Sioux were involved in some powerful ceremonies.

That was why Max and I found ourselves checked into the only available motel on both Rosebud and Pine Ridge in Mission, South Dakota from April-May, 1991. The weather was awful — it did everything possible to deter us. There was snow with thunder and lightning.

There were drunks who adored Max because he was wearing a military beret. Then, there was the kid who played “Smiles a Lot” and his dad. There was Art Black Bear who sold Max a peace pipe which he eventually gave away because it brought such turmoil into our lives. Max found an old book of Indian portraits taken by someone named Anderson. He used these in the paintings.

My favorites are “Chief Ring Thunder at Okreek”. Max took this picture. It even has the cleaning equipment in the right window. He added Chief Ring Thunder from his book of portraits.

In the end, of course, “Chief Crazy Horse at Wounded Knee” is the most powerful. Max painted this from a photo he took, and the painting is an exact copy of how the sign had been defaced. I remember that even the discarded Pepsi cup was there. I still don’t know whether to call them Sioux Indians or Native Americans, but Max preferred the word Indians.

Written in 2013 by Malinda Yoder, Max’ wife