"As Native people we were born with a spirit of colorful images in our hearts, and we strive to bring those images together into one finished product. When our journey is completed and we move on, what we have carved, painted, and created through the different mediums of art will be there to lift someone's spirit, and I think that will be a great accomplishment. This is why I do what I do. I will always have this appreciation for the land; there is a connection between my heart and the Black Hills."
Gerald Yellowhawk is a self-taught artist who was born on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation, South Dakota, in a community along the Owl Creek at Green Grass. The eminence of his grandfather, Elk Head, the spiritual leader, has profoundly influenced his life.
Yellowhawk's traditional name is Eyapaha Wakan, a name which he has humbly carried in his life. The name means 'The Sacred Herald'. His friends call him Jerry.
He learned the values of life from his mother Annie (Elk Head) Yellowhawk, who had taught him the women's art of beading, tanning hides and making moccasins, which are all part of his art today.
His subjects are found in the familiar animals that surround his life - horses, deer, eagle, and they find expression in the stories he heard from his grandfather.
Yellowhawk spends the greatest part of his life serving the people as a spiritual leader. He enjoys life and the laughter of children. He loves his life and the laughter of children. He loves people of all races. His world view is that of harmony, where people would walk together in unity, and share in the brotherhood of men, and in the respect for all women.
Along with creating art, he has found great pleasure in traditional dancing, in speaking when called upon, and in serving as a Lakota translator for various projects. One such long, complex project is to translate the Bible into the everyday language of the Lakota people.
Though Gerald Yellowhawk has always been known for his artistic skills, he has only recently in the past few years just begun to exhibit his work in art shows. His most recent accolade was being awarded First Place at the Northern Plains Indian Art Market, Sioux Falls, SD in 2007.
Prices of work for sale can be obtained from The Journey Museum Store at 605-394-2201. After the exhibit closes contact Gerald Yellowhawk at PO Box 431, Black Hawk, SD 57718; email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Sioux Indian Museum, managed by the Indian Arts and Crafts Board, U.S. Department of the Interior, is located in The Journey Museum at 222 New York St., Rapid City, SD 57701. For admission fees and hours of operation.