Butch Thunder Hawk is a Hunkpapa Lakota artist originally from Cannonball, North Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation. He graduated from Dickinson State University in North Dakota and attended the California College of Art and Crafts in Oakland, California. Thunder Hawk also studied tribal arts, including pipemaking, with elders at Standing Rock. He has taught tribal arts at United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, North Dakota, since the late 1970s. Many of the pieces for Monticello were created during a special summer session held in 2001 in which Butch and his students studied historic objects in the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University and the North Dakota Heritage Center, gathered wood, rocks, earth pigments and other materials, and made clubs, lances, and arrows. Butch also created shields, two pipes, and a quiver and bowcase for the project.
Butch and his students used mane and tail hair from Nokota horses to embellish the objects they created. Nokota horses formerly ran wild in the Little Missouri badlands of western North Dakota and are descended from early Indian and ranch stock. They have been designated North Dakota’s “honorary equine” or state horse. For more information on the Nokota horses, including Target, whose tail hair hangs from the green shield in the Indian Hall, see www.nokotahorse.org.