The Lake

James Walton Bruce

The Lake was commissioned especially for the third floor great room of the Oklahoma Judicial Center and completed in 2011. The painting measures 48 x 96 inches. Rather than a specific lake, the scene is intended to conjure that Oklahoma weekend pastime of “going to the lake.” The state has more than 55,000 miles of shoreline along lakes and ponds, more man-made shoreline than any other state in the Union.

A native Oklahoman, James Bruce took his first art lesson at 14 with Faye Burnett Baker in Ardmore. The following summer he took a workshop with noted artist Richard V. Goetz. This workshop sparked a passion for creating art that continues to this day. “Dick taught me basically how to see – how to see color and the beauty of putting objects together in harmony and design to create the overall mood I wanted to achieve.” Bruce said the focus on ‘painting what you see’ inspired by Goetz sets the creative tone for his work. “For me, the challenge of painting is to set the mood of the scene through close values, color, temperature, form and edges, all working together in harmony to convey that mood to the observer.”

White Buffalo Calf Woman

Connie Seabourn

Artist Connie Seabourn has long been fascinated by religious symbols and stories. “Spirituality frequently shows up in my art works,” she said. The legend of Buffalo Calf Woman also includes a strong female icon as the bearer of a sacred object. “That particular story really appealed to me.”

The Lakota legend of the White Buffalo Calf Woman has been handed down from generation to generation for centuries, describing the origin of the sacred pipe. Though variations exist, the story generally begins with two scouts searching for food in a time of famine. On their journey, they encountered a white buffalo that became a beautiful young woman in white clothing. One of the scouts was filled with desire and wanted to claim the woman. The other scout urged caution, saying the figure appeared to be a sacred woman, and touching her would be sacrilegious. His companion would not be deterred and when he approached the woman, a cloud descended. When the cloud disappeared, only a pile of bones remained.

The cautious scout dropped to his knees and began praying. The woman assured him that if he did as instructed, no harm would befall him and his tribe would prosper. She told him to return to his encampment and prepare a feast for her arrival. Four days later, White Buffalo Calf Woman appeared in the village and gave the tribe the sacred pipe, the holiest of all worship symbols. When she left, she promised to return, bringing peace and prosperity.

“A lot of people say that the time of the white buffalo is upon us,” Seabourn said. “Several white buffalo calves have been born in recent years.” It is said this will usher in a new era of peace and prosperity.

White Buffalo Calf Woman is a mixed media work that includes watercolor, drawing and collage. The multi-step process began with drawing the figure to collage onto the top center of the piece. Seabourn then used charcoal to write the words of the legend on the canvas. She selected this technique because the story would not exist without the oral tradition of words handed down from person to person. The faint letters evoke the feeling of an ancient legend. “When things are passed down they may become sketchy and we may not get the whole story.”

Seabourn earned a bachelor of fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and a master in education with an emphasis in studio art from the University of Central Oklahoma. Long before that, she watched her father, Bert Seabourn, create many masterpieces. See page 169. “I picked up little lessons and tips growing up,” she said. “Then when I was about 21, I actually studied watercolor with him one night a week for about a year.” In addition to technique and a passion for creativity, Seabourn said she has also been inspired by her father’s work ethic. “He’s always working. Even now, hardly a day goes by that he’s not working on his art.”

Like her father, she enjoys sharing her passion for art with students. She has taught art at Rose State College, the University of Central Oklahoma, John Marshall High School and is currently a faculty member at Harding Fine Arts Academy in Oklahoma City.

Seabourn’s work has been recognized with numerous awards, including those from the Trail of Tears Art Show in Tahlequah, the Five Civilized Tribes Museum in Muskogee and the Red Earth Festival in Oklahoma City.

Her paintings have been exhibited at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., the Museum of Man in San Diego and the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, the Minneapolis Institute of Art and the Collection of His Excellency Nubuno Matsunaga in Japan. Seabourn has also created book covers and had her work featured in magazines. Walk in Beauty, published in 1993, features watercolors from her first dozen years as a professional full-time artist. White Buffalo Calf Woman was purchased for the Oklahoma Judicial Center Collection.

Source: Personal interview and correspondence, April 23, 2013.

The Nut Harvest

Jean Myers Bales

The Nut Harvest depicts a group of women harvesting pecans, an important component of the Native American diet during the autumn after removal to Indian Territory. In an interview with the Lawton Constitution in 1987, artist Jean Bales said her harvest paintings are all focused on the 1890s period and feature tribal women wearing the loose-fitting calico dresses that missionaries taught them to make. “A lot of artists just paint Indian ceremonials and war dances. I like the everyday activities that are pleasant to look at, like picking sunflowers or harvesting nuts or corn.”

In an artist statement from a 1974 exhibit, she said, “Art, among the American Indian, has been and continues to be the communication of the history and values of the people. Art can communicate excitement and celebration or anxiety and mourning.” She went on to say, “More and more I realize the humanity of my ancestors. The past is no longer impersonal, it is filled with people being people. As all people do, they changed with time.”

Bales attended Chickasha public schools before going to the Oklahoma College of Liberal Arts in 1965. In 1969, she graduated with a bachelor’s in professional art. A member of the Iowa tribe, she taught crafts at the Bureau of Indian Affairs Fort Sill Indian School 1971-1972. Bales also served as an officer in the Oklahoma Indian Art League. In 1973, she received the Governor’s Cup for Outstanding Indian Artist at an exhibition at Shepherd Mall.

Her work has been exhibited at the National Indian Art Exhibit, the Heard Museum in Phoenix, and the Denver Museum of Natural History. Her work was also featured on a French wine label in the late 1980s. In 1984, she was named Artist of the Year by the Indian Arts and Crafts Association. The Nut Harvest is acrylic on handmade paper and is on permanent loan from the Oklahoma History Center.

Will Rogers

Herbert Adams

b. January 28, 1858, West Concord, Vermont d. May 21, 1945, New York City

Oklahoma’s favorite son, Will Rogers, was born near Oolagah in Indian Territory on November 4, 1879. A member of the Cherokee tribe, Rogers’ father, Clement Rogers, served as a Cherokee judge and was also a delegate to the Oklahoma Constitutional Convention. Rogers County in eastern Oklahoma is named for him.

Will’s pursuits tended to be less conventional than his father’s. The travel bug bit him early. In 1901, Will worked as a cowboy briefly in Argentina and South Africa before joining a circus as a trick roper in Australia. By 1904, he had returned to the United States to perform in vaudeville shows. As the years passed, he began incorporating witty commentary on current affairs into his act. In 1918, he made his movie debut in the title role of Laughing Bill Hyde. In 1922, he started writing a newspaper column that was soon syndicated across the country. In all, he starred in 71 movies and wrote more than 4,000 newspaper columns.

Will Rogers is venerated in Oklahoma. Public buildings, parks and thirteen public schools bear his name. Former Chief Justice Steven Taylor attended Will Rogers Elementary School in McAlester. The Will Rogers Memorial is located in Claremore, Oklahoma.

Sculptor Herbert Adams was a leading American sculptor during the first half of the twentieth century. His biographical information appears on page 16. The Will Rogers’ bust, along with a bust of Wiley Post, was presented to the Historical Society in a special ceremony on February 13, 1938. The proceedings began with a fly-over by the Southwestern Aviators Association who dropped floral offerings on the front steps of the Historical building. The Indian Glee Club from Mountain View, Oklahoma then sang “America.” The main address was delivered by Judge Thomas Doyle of the Court of Criminal Appeals and President Emeritus of the Historical Society. Doyle’s biographical information appears on page 18, and an excerpt of his speech appears on page 10. The bust of Will Rogers is displayed in the Chief Justice’s Chambers, atop a nineteenth century Wooten Desk. Indianapolis entrepreneur William Wooton patented his desk design on October 6, 1874, calling it “Wooton’s Patent Cabinet Office Secretary.” The multiple drawers and slots were in response to the recent technological advancement of the typewriter. It vastly increased the amount of paperwork produced, creating demand for desks with spaces to hold all that paper. Ads at the time described it as “The most complete desk for filing documents ever made. Well adapted to the use of county officers.” The desk would have originally had a drop-down leaf used as a writing surface. Slots for metal slides to secure the leaf are still visible on either side of the main unit.

This particular Wooton Desk was manufactured by Sutherland & Flach of Detroit, Michigan. Their company is listed in the 1877 Michigan State Gazetteer as being owned by James Sutherland and Charles Flach. The company was not listed in the 1890 directory, so this desk was made sometime between 1877 and 1890. Four different models were produced: ordinary, standard, extra grade and superior grade, depending on the wood veneer and elaborateness of ornamentation. This model is most likely an “ordinary” and would have sold for around $100 and may have been used in a county office or library. This desk is believed to have been a gift from the Cherokee Nation, donated to the Oklahoma Historical Society. The piece has been returned to service and is currently used as a distribution center for internal Supreme Court documents.

The Wooton desk, along with the bronze bust of Will Rogers, is on permanent loan from the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Source: American National Biography, Vol. 1, pp. 96-97; “Address by Thomas H. Doyle; Minutes of a Special Meeting of the Oklahoma Historical Society, February 13, 1938,” Chronicles of Oklahoma, Vol. 16, No. 1, March 1938; “Artist Picked, Clay Models Are Approved,” The Oklahoman, September 26, 1937; “Rogers and Post Busts Are Unveiled,” February 14, 1938.

The Oklahoma Nine

d.g. smalling

The Oklahoma Nine offers a representation of the nine Justices of the Supreme Court, along with iconic landmarks from each judicial district. Current Justices are presented here in order of seniority.

Justice Yvonne Kauger (District 4) is a fourth generation Oklahoman from Colony. The town’s brick and steel water tower remains a sentinel of the former Seger Colony, see page 111. Justice Ralph Hodges hired Kauger as the Supreme Court’s first woman staff lawyer, a post she held until appointment as a Justice by Governor George Nigh on March 14, 1984. She is the only woman in state history to serve as both Vice Chief Justice and Chief Justice. Kauger is depicted with her family: Jonna Dee Kauger Kirschner, Jay Michael Eduard Kauger Scambler, Winston Jon Eagle Kauger Scambler; and her longtime staff members: Kyle Shifflett and Vanessa Traylor.

Justice Joseph Watt (District 9) served as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Oklahoma from 2003 to 2006. A graduate of the University of Texas Law School, he is an avid golfer and has an impressive collection of United States Presidential memorabilia. He was appointed as a Justice on May 18, 1992.

Justice James Winchester (District 5) enjoys canoeing and has been extremely active in scouting with his son, Davis. He was awarded the Silver Beaver for his service by the Boy Scouts Last Frontier Council in 2013. Winchester also bicycles frequently. He has been a Justice since January 4, 2000, and served as Chief Justice in 2007 and 2008.

Justice James Edmondson (District 7) served in the United States Navy from 1967 to 1969 before earning his law degree from Georgetown University Law School. He is shown with his wife Suzanne Edmondson, a corrections volunteer who established education and mentoring programs for incarcerated women. After 20 years on the bench as district judge, Governor Brad Henry appointed Edmondson as a Justice on December 2, 2003. He served as Chief Justice in 2009 and 2010. The mighty Arkansas River cuts through District 7.

Justice Steven Taylor (District 2) served in the United States Marine Corps after graduating from the University of Oklahoma College of Law, see page 50. Taylor spent 20 years working in the Pittsburg County Courthouse, first as Associate District Judge, then as District Judge until appointed as a Justice by Governor Brad Henry on September 23, 2004. He served as Chief Justice in 2011 and 2012. His son, Wilson, is Manager of Team Operations for the Oklahoma City Thunder basketball team and Taylor attends nearly every home game.

Justice Tom Colbert (District 6) is the first African American Chief Justice, as well as the first African American appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma and Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals. Realizing that education holds the key to success, Colbert volunteers his time in reading and mentoring programs. An All American winner in the long jump, Colbert still competes in Masters’ Track events. Governor Brad Henry appointed Colbert as a Justice on October 7, 2004, and he served as Chief Justice in 2013 and 2014.

Justice John Reif (District 1) worked as a police officer for the City of Owasso before earning his law degree from the University of Tulsa. He served 23 years on the Oklahoma Court of Civil Appeals before being appointed to the Supreme Court of Oklahoma on October 22, 2007. An avid animal lover, he is shown with his faithful border collie. District 1 includes the Tall Grass Prairie Preserve, home to a herd of more than 2,500 American Bison.

Justice Douglas Combs (District 8) worked in the Oklahoma Supreme Court Clerk’s office while attending law school at Oklahoma City University. His collegiate career began at St. Gregory’s in Shawnee with its century-old Benedictine Hall. Combs is a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation. An avid golfer, his golf cart sports the emblem of the Oklahoma flag. His sons are both practicing Oklahoma attorneys. Governor Brad Henry appointed Combs as a Justice on November 5, 2010.

Justice Noma Gurich (District 3) moved from Indiana to attend the University of Oklahoma College of Law. She is an active member of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church where she volunteers with their television ministry and has made multiple mission trips to Russia. She is also a cat lover. District 3 includes the iconic SkyDance pedestrian bridge spanning Interstate 40 south of downtown Oklahoma City. On January 7, 2011, Gurich was appointed as a Justice by Governor Brad Henry.

Choctaw artist d.g. smalling completed these images in ink on leather. Richard Smith offered his expertise in affixing the leather to smalling’s acrylic painting of the Oklahoma Judicial Districts. Smalling’s biographic information appears on page 146. He donated The Oklahoma Nine to the Oklahoma Judicial Center Collection.

Photographs of the current Justices and all Justices since statehood are displayed on the ground floor of the Oklahoma Judicial Center, see page 197.

Woodrow Wilson Crumbo

Woodrow Wilson Crumbo

Woody Crumbo’s pieces on display in the Oklahoma Judicial Center reflect his passion for music and dance. As a young man, he developed close associations with the Kiowa tribe and in 1933, he was named keeper of their sacred flute. The Kiowa flute is made from cedar representing purity of spirit. The four upper holes of the flute symbolize the four directions of the wind. The carved bird at the end of the instrument sends forth the flute’s song for the world. An accomplished musician, Crumbo toured the country with Native dancers and musicians in 1932, playing the flute in more than 80 symphonic concerts. Crumbo also excelled as a dancer and in 1935, he won a national dance competition.

Crumbo was the last of eleven children born into his family. His mother, Mary Ann Hurd Crumbo was a member of the Potawatomi tribe. Knowing her son was special, she named him for the soon-to-be 28th President of the United States. Mary did not live to see her son’s achievements, she died in the Spanish influenza epidemic of 1919. Crumbo’s father died soon after, leaving him an orphan. Rather than being sent to an orphanage, Crumbo set out on his own, doing farm work for room and board.

At 16, he returned to school, attending the government boarding school at Chilocco. He excelled and received a scholarship to the American Indian Institute in Wichita, Kansas. Crumbo graduated from there in 1933 and went on to Wichita University where he studied mural arts with Olaf Nordmark and watercolor painting with Clayton Staples. In 1936, he transferred to the University of Oklahoma and studied with Oscar Jacobson, see page 130. He left before finishing his degree to become art director of Bacone College in 1938.

During World War II, Crumbo worked for the Douglas Aircraft Company in Tulsa. He was later artist-in-residence at Tulsa’s Gilcrease Museum. He also served as curator of the El Paso Art Museum during the 1960s. In 1973, Crumbo moved his family back to Oklahoma, devoting himself to art fulltime. In his later years, he moved to New Mexico, opening a gallery in Cimarron.

Crumbo’s work can also be seen in the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the Gilcrease and Philbrook Museums in Tulsa. Through Crumbo is renowned for his silk screens, his pieces in the Oklahoma Judicial Center collection are rare original paintings. They are on permanent loan from the Oklahoma Historical Society.

Source: Oklahoma Today, Summer 1958, Spring 1977, November-December 1984; Perry, Robert, Uprising: Woody Crumbo’s Indian Art, Chickasaw Press, 2009, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture.

The Sovereignty Symposium Posters


The Sovereignty Symposium Posters

Each year since 1987, a well known Native artist is featured on the Sovereignty Symposium poster. Artists have included Ben Harjo, Kelly Haney, Jeri Redcorn, and Mike Larsen. The Supreme Court of Oklahoma is one of several sponsors for the Symposium, which is recognized as the premier conference on Indian Law, drawing prominent speakers from across the nation.

Peacekeepers served as the theme for 2008 and Larsen was asked to paint noted Kiowa dancer Dixon Palmer in his Kiowa Black Leggings regalia as the featured subject of the poster. The Kiowa Black Leggings have served as Color Guard for the Sovereignty Symposium every year since its inception. Palmer would also be named as Honored One at the Sovereignty Symposium the same year. At the time, Palmer was in poor health and unable to sit for a portrait. Fortunately, Larsen had previously completed a series of large murals for the Arts Institute at Quartz Mountain that included Palmer. Larsen relied on photos, sketches and memories of creating that previous work to complete the Peacekeeper image of Palmer. “We got to be very good friends,” Larsen said of Palmer. “He laughed a lot.”

Though his sunset painting of the Oklahoma prairie was selected by the U.S. Postal Service as Oklahoma’s Centennial Stamp, Larsen’s passion shines most vibrantly when painting people. Larsen recently completed a monumental series of forty-eight portraits of Chickasaw elders that can be seen at the Chickasaw Cultural Center near Sulphur, Oklahoma and were also published in two volumes: They Know Who They Are: Chickasaw Elders and Proud to be Chickasaw (Elders of the Chickasaw Nation). More of Larsen’s work appears on pages 76 and 140.

Palmer, who was born in a tipi on his grandmother’s allotment just west of Anadarko, served as a member of the Kiowa TON-KON-GAH Black Leggings Warrior Society for 52 years. For more information on the Black Leggings Warrior Society, see Virginia Stroud’s painting on page 79. Palmer served with the 45th Infantry Division in World War II, logging 511 days in combat. He earned two Silver Stars and three Bronze Stars during his military service. While stationed in Massachusetts, he formed a dance group, introducing East Coast residents to the thrill of Kiowa dances. This included a performance for a record-breaking crowd of 90,000 at a racetrack.

Palmer participated in his first professional dance performance at the age of 12 and competed in every National War Dance Championship contest presented during the American Indian Exposition in Anadarko, Oklahoma. In 1937, at age 17, he won the national title, then repeated his success and won it again in 1945. Palmer continued dancing throughout his life and placed among the top six finalists during his fifties.

Palmer also gained world renown for his skill in making magnificent feathered war bonnets, including the ones worn by the Black Leggings Warrior Society. Based on Kiowa tradition, eagle feathers in the bonnet represented brave deeds. He also made bonnets using turkey feathers for celebrities, including Willie Nelson and Loretta Lynn. In 1973, Palmer was commissioned to create his own version of the famous Kiowa Tipi of Battle Pictures for the Southern Plains Indian Museum. The exhibition received national acclaim and led to numerous private tipi commissions.

Over the years, Palmer appeared on numerous national television shows, had parts in several motion pictures and took part in a Japanese documentary focusing on Native Americans. Palmer died March 3, 2011, at the age of 90.

The Trial, Tsistsistas Way

Gordon Yellowman

The Trial depicts an actual case heard by the Cheyenne Council of Forty-Four, the traditional peacekeepers, in the 1860s after an aborted fetus was found near the village. To determine who had committed the crime, the Council required women of childbearing age to bare their breasts. The lactating woman was then identified as the mother. Tsistsistas is the language word Cheyennes use when speaking of their tribe. It honors their traditional culture and way of life during the time their territory spanned the Plains, from Montana to Texas.

This piece is an example of Cheyenne ledger art, reminiscent of the 19th Century works produced by Plains Indian artists who had few sources of paper beyond ledger books. Artist Gordon Yellowman incorporates modern hues, giving his work a more contemporary feel of artistic expression.

Yellowman initially became a part of tribal leadership at the age of sixteen when he was elected as a Peace Chief in 1973. He serves as one of the four Principal Chiefs of the Cheyenne tribe, a position he has held since 1995.

Art has always been a part of Yellowman’s life and as a child, he often received art supplies as Christmas gifts. He went on to study art at El Reno Junior College, Canadian Valley Vo-Tech, the University of Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State University. At the University of Oklahoma, he studied art with Mary Jo Watson and Edgar Heap of Birds, both highly respected Indian artists and professors who mentored and influenced him.

Many accounts of Cheyenne tribal history have been handed down through oral tradition, like the actual historical events illustrated in The Trial. That particular incident had not been formally documented. When Yellowman was commissioned to do a piece for the Oklahoma Judicial Center, he saw the perfect opportunity to share the Tsistsistas way of justice. Visual depictions of history have become a priority for the artist. “When we can preserve our stories through art, that is what saves our culture,” Yellowman said.

Much of Yellowman’s life revolves around preserving his heritage. He is an adjunct professor in the art department of the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribal College at Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford. He was the first Cheyenne to be named as a Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act Representative and also served as the National Historic Preservation Act Representative for the Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribe. Through his work as a cultural advisor and consultant, he assists museums and federal agencies across the country and was recently featured on the television show, History Detectives.

In 2010, he was recognized as the Red Earth Festival Honored One in recognition of his great artistic talent and dedication to mentoring other artists. His work has appeared on book jackets, a postage stamp and as the State Highway Sign logo for the Cheyenne Heritage Trail. His work has also been featured at the Southern Plains Indian Museum in Anadarko, the Sam Noble Oklahoma Museum of Natural History and at the Mabee Greer Museum in Shawnee. He is currently designing a logo for the Field School of Texas Tech University.

Source: “The Extraordinary Ledger Art of Gordon Yellowman,” Distinctly Oklahoma, August 2011; Personal interview April 16, 2013.

Thomas H. Doyle, Henry Furman and H.G. Baker

Mike Wimmer

In the months preceding Oklahoma statehood, 112 elected delegates met in Guthrie to craft the Oklahoma Constitution. The Constitutional Convention began on November 20, 1906, and formally adjourned on March 15, 1907. In those five months, delegates prepared the framework that would become Oklahoma’s state government. On September 17, 1907, seventy-one percent of voters approved the Constitution. This vote paved the way for President Theodore Roosevelt to sign documents on November 16, 1907, officially declaring Oklahoma the forty-sixth state.

With approximately 50,000 words, Oklahoma’s Constitution is one of the longest state constitutions in the nation, specifically enumerating rights of the people and detailing powers of the state. This included dividing the government into three separate departments: the legislative, executive and judicial. Article VII of the Oklahoma Constitution provided for the creation of the Criminal Court of Appeals by the state legislature. The First Legislature passed “an act creating a Criminal Court of Appeals, and defining the jurisdiction of said court.” Governor Charles Haskell signed the bill into law on May 18, 1908 and appointed the first judges to sit on the Criminal Court of Appeals in September 1908.

Those judges are depicted in this portrait by artist Mike Wimmer. From the left are Judges Thomas H. Doyle of Perry, Henry M. Furman of Ada and H.G. Baker of Muskogee. Doyle’s biographic information appears with his individual portrait on page 18. Furman was born in 1850 in Society Hill, South Carolina and studied law in New Orleans before moving to Texas where he was elected as a county attorney in 1876. He practiced law in both Texas and Colorado before settling in Indian Territory in 1895. Furman became a formidable criminal lawyer and participated in several historic cases, including the first trial held in United States District Court for the Southern District of Indian Territory. Furman defended “Little Bud” Watkins, a young man of Chickasaw descent accused of killing his former employer, a prominent cattleman. Watkins was found guilty and sentenced to hang, but Furman appealed and the case was reversed and remanded for a new trial. In the second trial, Watkins was again convicted and this time given a life sentence. Furman again appealed and along with reversal, was successful in getting a change of venue to Paris, Texas for the third trial. The Paris jury acquitted Watkins, who was then released after six years in federal custody.

As a jurist, Furman applied equal passion to hearing cases, a challenge for a new court that instantly inherited all pending appeals from the courts of both Indian Territory and Oklahoma Territory. In the years immediately following statehood, the Criminal Court of Appeals issued more than 300 published opinions annually. In addition, Furman publicly clashed with Oklahoma’s second governor, Lee Cruce. Cruce granted clemency to nearly every death row inmate who applied for a pardon during his term, 22 in all. Furman saw this as a breach of executive duty and a violation of the separation of powers outlined in the Constitution.

He took the Governor to task in a 1913 opinion, Henry v. State, “As this is a capital conviction, and as the Governor’s action presents an absolute bar to the enforcement of law in Oklahoma, we cannot, without a failure to discharge our duty, omit to take judicial notice of, and pass upon, this position of the Governor, as unpleasant as it is for us to do so. If we remained silent, the Governor and the people would have the right to think that the courts acquiesced in the position which he has assumed, when as a matter of fact nothing is further from the truth. We therefore cannot avoid deciding this matter.” Furman went on to call the Governor’s position utterly untenable and urged him to refrain from interfering with the law and respect the independence of the judiciary. Furman died in office on April 10, 1916, but outlasted Governor Cruce who left office in January 1915. The third judge in the painting, H.G. Baker served less than a year on the court before resigning. His replacement, Thomas Owen was appointed in June 1909.

In 1959, the Legislature changed the court’s name to the Court of Criminal Appeals. This painting was originally unveiled in March 1999, by then-Presiding Judge Reta Strubhar. Appointed in 1993, Strubhar was the first woman to serve on the Court of Criminal Appeals. The portrait originally hung in the Court of Criminal Appeals Capitol Courtroom and was relocated to their new courtroom in the Oklahoma Judicial Center in June 2011.

Artist Mike Wimmer earned his bachelor of fine arts from the University of Oklahoma and his masters of fine arts from the University of Hartford in Hartford, Connecticut. More than two dozen of his commissioned historical paintings and portraits grace the Oklahoma State Capitol Building. Wimmer also illustrates books for children, several of which have been recognized with awards. His most recent, George: George Washington Our Founding Father, won the Oklahoma Book Award for illustration in 2013. Wimmer’s work has been exhibited at the Gilcrease Art Museum in Tulsa, the Mabee-Gerrer Museum in Shawnee and at the Oklahoma City Art Museum. His illustrations were also featured in an exhibit called “Exploring the Great Outdoors” which opened at the Meridian International Center in Washington, D.C. before traveling to other venues around the world.

Source: “History Unveiled,” The Oklahoman, March 9, 1999; Oklahoma Constitution, Article 4, section 1, Article 7, section 1; Oklahoma State Senate Artwork accessed May 13, 2013; Constitutional Convention, Oklahoma Constitution, Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture; Artist provided biography.

Three Sistern of the Supreme Court

Jereldine Cross Redcorn

Growing up on her grandmother’s Caddo land allotment near Colony, Oklahoma, Jereldine (Jeri) Cross Redcorn never aspired to be an artist. She studied math at Wayland University in Plainview, Texas and earned a masters in educational administration from Penn State University. In fact, she was in her fifties and well settled into a teaching career when the inspiration to create pottery took hold of her. In June 1991, she was with other members of the Caddo Culture Club touring the Museum of the Red River in Idabel, Oklahoma. It was there that she saw for the first time pottery vessels made by her Caddo ancestors. The Caddo removal in 1859, and subsequent years of hardship meant the pottery tradition had been completely lost by the tribe; not a single person who knew the techniques remained.

Inspired by the vessels she saw, Redcorn became determined to revive this lost tradition. She started working with clay, read archeology books and visited many more museums. She studied the work of her ancestors, and talked with scores of archeologists. She requested special access to collections so she could gain insight into the crafting methods used hundreds of years ago. She took graduate studies in anthropology at the University of Colorado in Boulder to learn the cultural details behind the historical pieces.

Passion and dedication allowed Redcorn to master the art of Caddo pottery. Defining characteristics of Caddo pottery include an extremely thin highly polished body, extraordinary light weight and extravagantly intricate patterns of swirling and interlocking scrolls, tick marks, cross-hatched zones and bands.

In 2009, First Lady Michelle Obama selected one of her pots, Intertwining Scrolls, to be displayed in the Oval Office of the White House. It occupies a place of honor, directly across from the President when he is seated at his desk. Redcorn was named Honored One at the Red Earth Art Show for her lifetime of contributions to Native American Art and she was named a Rockefeller Fellow by the Newberry Library in Chicago, Illinois. She has also been an artist in residence at the Art Institute of Chicago and served as a Smithsonian Community Scholar.

Her works are included in the Smithsonian Institution, the National Museum of the American Indian, the Texas State Natural History Museum, the Spiro Mounds Museum and the Oklahoma History Center. Redcorn is Caddo and Potawatomi and a relation of Olympic athlete Jim Thorpe on the Potawatomi side. Her tribal name is Zhi-BipQuah, meaning River Woman, an appropriate title for someone who collects the principal element of her craft from the riverbank.

Redcorn attended school with Justice Yvonne Kauger in Colony, Oklahoma and they played on the same basketball team. Later she regularly played tennis with the late Justice Alma Wilson. Her three pieces in the Judicial Center collection were specially commissioned for the building. They are dedicated to the “Sistern” of the Oklahoma Supreme Court, Justice Alma Wilson, Justice Yvonne Kauger and Justice Noma Gurich, a basketball player from Indiana. They are inspired by Spiro Engraved pieces and each pot has a dancing figure engraved on it, representing corn, beans and pumpkins. Caddo women carried these seeds with them when leaving the underground to go the light, the sun. These seeds allowed Spiro and other cities to become centers of commerce and society for the Caddo and other tribes. In Caddo, Corn Woman is Kish-sih Nutte, Bean Woman is Bah-hey Nutte and Pumpkin Woman is Coo-nooh-cah-ke-cus-neh Nutte.