Ride To a New Destiny depicts four women on horseback signifying freedom and determination. The strength and determination of Native women is a favorite subject for Muscogee Creek artist Dana Tiger.
“By realizing the natural strength and courage of women in my ancestry, I hope to portray the historical dignity and contemporary determination of Native American women,” Tiger said. The moon also often appears in her work, symbolizing the circle of life. “It’s empowering and strengthening to me.”
Tiger has endured her share of hardships. Her father, Jerome Tiger died of an accidental gunshot wound when she was five. In the 1990s, her brother was murdered and her sister tested positive for HIV. Then in 1999, Tiger was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that impairs motor skills and speech. Rather than giving up her passion, Tiger has firmly embraced her love of art. “I hope to give inspiration that there’s always a better day. My art symbolizes that hope and potential,” she said in a 2009 interview with Indian Country Today.
Along with her husband, Donnie, she operates the Tiger Gallery in Muskogee. She also founded and directs Legacy Cultural Learning Community, a non-profit organization devoted to making the arts accessible to Native youth. In 2001, she was inducted into the Oklahoma Women’s Hall of Fame for advocating through art on behalf of women, children and Native Americans.
She has donated paintings for poster projects to a number of organizations close to her heart including the AIDS Coalition for Indian Outreach, the American Indian College Fund, the Ozark Literacy Council, the Indians in Medicine Project, the National Organization for Women and the Conference of the State of the American Family.
Tiger’s paintings have won awards at the Five Tribes Masters Show, the Cherokee National Holiday Art Competition and she has also been recognized as Creek Nation Artist of the Year. Tiger’s artistic legacy also continues with her children, her daughter, Christie, is currently a student at the Institute of American Indian Art in Santa Fe and her son, Coleman Lisan, is a sculptor see page 180. Ride To a New Destiny was purchased for the Oklahoma Judicial Center collection.
Source: Personal interview & correspondence July 2013; “American Indian artists share culture with community,” The Oklahoman, June 8, 2001; “Dana Tiger answered the voice inside,” Indian Country Today, 2009; “Tiger using her art to reach out to youth,” Tahlequah Daily Press, May 11, 2010; “The Tiger’s Tale,” Slice, May 2012; Artist provided biography.