Jonny Hawk, “That’s The Indian Problem Today,” undated

This week’s post is by a Spring 2013 student in “Native American Art and Material Culture,” Kristen Enyart. Students in the class wrote about works by Native artists in the OSUMA collection, some of which were subsequently exhibited at the Malinda Berry Fischer Gallery, at the OSU Foundation.

Jonny Hawk, sometimes known as Johnson Lee Scott, is a Native artist who identifies with both the Creek and Seminole American Indian tribes. He was born on October 21, 1938 in Saskwa, Oklahoma and he currently resides in Oklahoma City. Jonny graduated from Sequoya High School in 1955 and then attended Oklahoma State University of Technology in Okmulgee, OK. He married Billey Louis Tiger in 1959 and they have seven children. His main pieces are works in acrylic, watercolor, and prints. He also is known to be a writer of short stories, poems, and songs. All of his pieces are very unique and have a special meaning. Many of his paintings are focused on the Trail of Tears.

Jonny Hawk (b. 1938), That’s The Indian Problem Today, undated. Acrylic on canvas, gift of Dr. James B. Wise, 08-0038.

Jonny Hawk (b. 1938), That’s The Indian Problem Today, undated. Acrylic on canvas, gift of Dr. James B. Wise, 08-0038.

Hawk’s work has been presented in many different exhibitions such as: Cherokee National Museum, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum, the Heard Museum, the Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonials, the All-Oklahoma Indian Artists Invitational, the Philbrook Museum of Art, the Indian Health Care Resource Center’s Tallasi Winter Festival, and the Five State Regional National watercolor show, where he was named Best of Show in 1978. When looking through OSU’s collection of Jonny Hawk paintings I noticed a constant display of emotion. The emotion expressed in his work as a whole is tremendous! The titles of his art only enlarge the emotion that is being put forth in the paintings.

This piece of artwork, That’s The Indian Problem Today, is an acrylic painting on a 10 ½” x 13 ½” canvas in a 19” x 22” wooden frame. The painting is undated. The painting consists of a sky blue background with the side view of a Native American male. It is unknown if this is a portrayal of a specific Native. The painting is very detailed, from the headdress feathers to the glare in his eyes. Just like many of Hawk’s paintings, it is a one-of-a-kind piece. It is very likely that this piece ties into his continuing symbolism of the Trail of Tears. This painting definitely relates to another painting by Jonny Hawk: Never Look Forward To Happiness…. is similar to this one but with different colors, slightly different headdress, and a different side view. By comparing the titles of these two paintings, I want to conclude that “the Indian problem today” is that they never look forward to happiness.



About osucurator

Louise Siddons is Associate Professor of Art History at Oklahoma State University and founding curator of the Oklahoma State University Museum of Art. She maintains this blog as a record of her students' work with the Museum's permanent collection as well as more generally with topics related to museum studies.
This entry was posted in permanent collection, student research, student writing. Bookmark the permalink.

9 Responses to Jonny Hawk, “That’s The Indian Problem Today,” undated

  1. Ellen Zeno says:

    I have Jonny Hawk’s self portrait.titled “When life have no more to offer think of me” ’86…I have had it for 30 years…He gave it to me in Las Vegas. Perhaps it needs to go home.

    • osucurator says:


      Thanks for your comment. I would love to see your painting! I think Kristen is exactly right when she says that the titles are an important part of Hawk’s paintings, and yours is very intriguing.

      Louise (Curator, OSUMA)

      • Ellen says:

        I am at loss for words. I do not know what Jonny remembers or how much he would want me to say. So let me say this, in the secret recess of my heart, Jonny stills dwells,

      • Ellen says:

        PS…..Thank you for the opportunity to tell of my painting…I wish you Joy…Happiness…and the
        many Blessings of the Great Spirit…


  2. Lance Garrett says:

    There is a Jonny Hawk original up for sale at the Ponca City Art Center. It is titled “THERE WERE NO TEARS, BUT IN BETWEEN I LEFT A TRAIL I DON’T WANT TO REMEMBER”

  3. KatherinelReed says:

    To whom it may concern , johnny hawk passed away awhile back but will never be forgotten well known in Rincon Indian Reservation in California. Rest in Peace Johnny Hawk

    • Kelley Lackey says:

      I live in Norman, OK. & am researching some art of Jonny Hawk I acquired in a antique/vintage shop I used to own. When we closed 2 years ago, I hung on to the pieces of his. Some I’m keeping for myself & will sell some. Anyway, in my searching about him I stumbled onto this story about him & these comments. Everything I had read up to now, indicated that he was still alive. Sorry to hear that is not the case. I have searched for an obituary but am not finding one. He apparently lived in Oklahoma City at some point. Do you know when & where he died?

  4. Johnny hawk a great loss to the people young and old

  5. Margi says:

    I have a painting of the Trail of Tears by Hawk titled, “I Have Memories to Share” dated ’75 that we bought in a gallery in Norman, OK. At the time we were told by the curator that she believed he was extremely talented but had an alcohol problem that affected his productivity. Does anyone know if this was true? Maybe that was part of the sorrow that comes through in so much of his work? I love my painting…when we saw it in the gallery it brought tears to my eyes and that had NEVER happened before. I knew we needed to purchase it, and the owner worked out a payment schedule since we weren’t rolling in cash! Sorry to hear of his passing.

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