TSATOKE, MONROE (1904-1937)
A Kiowa painter from Oklahoma, Monroe Tsatoke (Tsa To Kee, or Hunting Horse) brought acclaim and recognition to other Indian artists and to his home state. He was born near Saddle Mountain, Oklahoma, on September 29, 1904, the son of Tsa To Kee (Hunting Horse), a Kiowa scout for Gen. George Armstrong Custer. Tsatoke's grandmother was a white captive. Tsatoke married Martha Koomsa in 1924, and they had four children; Jewel, Lee Monette (also an artist), Ross Maker, and John Thomas.
Tsatoke's father nourished him on Kiowa culture. He passed along to his son knowledge that resulted in culturally specific paintings such as Dog Soldiers. He was instructed in painting in the classes offered by Kiowa Field Matron Susie Peters and, later, by art teacher Willie Baze Lane. He also attended classes at Bacone College in Muskogee, Oklahoma, and at the University of Oklahoma, studying under professors Edith Mahier and Oscar B. Jacobson. In addition to his painting Tsatoke was passionate about music and was chief singer for Kiowa ceremonials for a number of years. He memorized songs from many different tribes. He was also fascinated by symbols. After he became a member of the Native American Church, his paintings recorded many of the ceremonies' symbols. Recognized as part of that of the early Oklahoma Indian masters, his works are is held in the collections of the Gilcrease Museum, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Cleveland Museum of Art, and the Museum of the American Indian in New York. A victim of tuberculosis, he died February 3, 1937.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Maurice Boyd, Kiowa Voices: Ceremonial Dance, Ritual and Song, Vol. 1 (Fort Worth: Texas Christian University Press, 1981). Jeanne O. Snodgrass, American Indian Painters: A Biographical Directory (New York: The Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, 1968).
Mary Jo Watson
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