World-renowned Kiowa artist Sherman Chaddlesone walked on August 17 after an extended illness. He was surrounded by family and friends at his home in Anadarko, Oklahoma. He was 66.
He was born June 2, 1947 to John Wesley and Alice Toppah (Yellowhair) Chaddlesone in Lawton, Oklahoma at the Kiowa Indian Hospital. His art training began with his father and the Lawton Public Schools. In 1964, he studied at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Chaddlesone then served in the U.S. Army from 1968 to 1969 as an intelligence and operations specialist in both Vietnam and Thailand.
In 1969, Chaddlesone took a position as the Indian Arts Workshop director, which was part of the San Francisco Arts Commission Neighborhood Arts program. It was during this time that Chaddlesone and his wife, Allie, worked with the Indians of All Tribes’ Alcatraz Island occupation.
After working in San Francisco, Chaddlesone studied at the University of Central Oklahoma at the urging of fellow Kiowa artist, T.C. Cannon. He then moved to his wife’s home area of the Kalispel Reservation in Washington state, where they were active with the northern powwow circuit.
In 1982, Chaddlesone returned to Oklahoma, where he and wife pursued full-time careers as artists. His commissions in painting, printmaking and bronze sculpture include installations at the U.S. Army Fort Sill Museum in Fort Sill, Oklahoma and the National Hall of Fame for Famous American Indians in Anadarko, Oklahoma. His other projects include participation in an artist exchange program between the United States and Bremen, Germany.
In 1984, Chaddlesone collaborated with Kiowa artists Parker Boyiddle and Mirac Creepingbear on ten 6-foot by 8-foot murals depicting the origin and history of the Kiowa Tribe. These murals are currently on display at the Kiowa Tribal Museum in Carnegie, Oklahoma.
“[The mural project] wasn’t something that we just sat down and dreamed up ourselves,” Chaddlesone said told Indian Country Today Media Network in March 2011. “The elders defined the story for us. We were just their tools.”
He was a member of the Kiowa Black Leggings Warrior Society (“Ton-Kon-Gau”), whose annual veterans’ ceremonial takes place in October. In 2008, Chaddlesone collaborated with Kiowa artist Jeff Yellowhair to paint a new Battle Tipi for the society’s 50th anniversary.
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In addition to his work in the art world, he also served as a member of the Kiowa Business Committee—the elected governing body of the Kiowa Tribe—and as administration manager for the Kalispel Reservation.
Chaddlesone is survived by his wife, four daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, one brother, two sisters and many nieces and nephews.
“He was one of the few artists who was able to impact the world through his art and politics as a testament to Kiowa culture and beliefs,” said Chaddlesone’s nephew, South Dakota State Representative Kevin Killer (D-Pine Ridge).
Online condolences may be left for the family at SteversonFuneralHome.com.