Jerome Bushyhead, my adopted Cheyenne Dad

Jerome, at a healthier time in his life.


(Taken at his Western Expo, I believe…)


This photo was taken at Jerome’s house in El Reno, shortly before he passed on.

Jerome’s “End of Freedom” End of Freedom by Jerome Bushyhead

Jerome & I, along with our families, shared so many good times through the years during personal time and while set up at shows such as Red Earth, gallery shows, the yearly art calendar signings, the Western Expo he directed and coordinated, and shows like the Seminole Tribe’s “Native America ’93” week-long show in Hialeah, Florida which I will be sharing stories about later. He was such a genuine and gentle, kind spirited man. He seemed to take me under his wing shortly after I began showing my art and was a steadfast adviser and friend, soon becoming family to me, my husband and children.

Vision Seeker by Jerome Bushyhead Vision Seeker by Jerome Bushyhead

After many of the art shows, we would all go out for dinner. Jerome had such a powerful presence about him. It seemed as though a silence would fall over the room and everyone there would turn to observe this massive, captivating man each time we walked into a restaurant. You could tell that “they knew he was someone special” the moment he walked in. And indeed he was. I remember one particular man who sat at the table behind him. This man could not take his eyes off of Jerome, staring at him and his huge hand thrown over the back of the chair, bearing a turquoise ring “that would have almost fit most people’s wrists.” Laura, his wife, made a light-hearted comment that night about being jealous with all the attention he was getting (not just from the women…but from all the men in the room). But that was the way it always was with Jerome. People were drawn to him. Of course, this suited Jerome. He liked people and was always warm, approachable and his presence and words were always powerful and welcomed.

Warrior’s Commitment Warrior’s Commitment by Jerome Bushyhead

Jerome had an incredible speaking voice. He had a gift for speaking and a comfortable ease about him that kept your attention. When he spoke, people listened. His words were full of substance because he spoke from the heart and from a place of wisdom. And conversation was always easy with Jerome. I looked up to him and learned so much from him. So many gifts he gave me…

jerome-may-13-1999.jpgHe is never far away these days. I have a very large, lone coyote that visits me. He travels alone. I always know when he is there. He has a special presence about him as Jerome always had and he exhibits that quiet strength I saw in Jerome. One day he approached the door of the barn and looked inside as I was feeding our horses (…as witnessed from a distance by my husband). Often, he will quietly walk across our front or back yard… very near the house, throwing me a curious glance through the window as he slowly passes through. He is never in a hurry. And I always get that warm, comforting feeling that I had any time I was around Jerome. So, as the Coyote Walks By… I know it is Jerome – keeping a watchful eye… checking on me. Saying hello. He lets me know he is well… and still there for me.

Jerome Bushyhead (9/13/1929 – 4/15/2000)

More on Jerome Bushyhead: The English meaning of Jerome Bushyhead’s Cheyenne name is Coyote Walks By.” As well as being a fellow artist, Jerome became my adopted Cheyenne dad and was a dear friend. Jerome Bushyhead was born in Calumet, Oklahoma September 13, 1929. He passed on in El Reno, Oklahoma April 15, 2000.

Below are some of his many accomplishments:

His education was at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana; His art subject matter of specialty was Cheyenne and Plains Indian Beliefs & Traditions. These included spiritual topics and the path traveled by the warrior. He was recognized for his excellent interpretation of the life of the plains Indians, exhibiting his work and speaking extensively throughout the U.S. and throughout Germany, Switzerland, France and Austria. His original works hang in private collections all over the world.He was a producer and host of his own television show “Unity” on Channel 4, KTVY, in Oklahoma City for eight years; He was Director of the Oklahoma State Fair Indian Program since 1976; He hosted a radio program on Station KELR, El Reno Oklahoma, entitled “The Indian Nation Hour” for five years; He founded the Cheyenne Nation Arts and Crafts Show and Inter-Tribal Pow-Wow in 1972, which has become a National Event; He was Co-Founder of the Oklahoma Indian Art League, Inc.; His Painting, “The Worshiping Warrior”, appeared on the cover of the 1974 summer issue of the “Chronicles of Oklahoma” magazine published by the Oklahoma Historical Society; He is noted for being the spokesman for all Indians charged in April 1974 with “Feather Violations” by the U.S. Wildlife Commission. Jerome was the primary force in the Indians fight to retain the right to use the feathers. He appeared on both local and national TV in his efforts to ensure the right was restored to the Indian people; He worked with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes of Oklahoma as the Public Information Director; He worked with the Pacific International Enterprises Movie Company on “Wind Walker” from 1980- 81; He lectured at schools, colleges, organizations, communities and had been involved with charitable work such as providing a painting to the Los Angeles Indian Actors Association for a raffle to provide funds for a National Tour.



Wake service for widely-known Cheyenne artist Jerome Gilbert BUSHYHEAD (Coyote Walks By), 70, will be at 7 p.m., Wednesday, April 19, at Benson Memorial Chapel, 100 S. Barker, El Reno. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m., Thursday, April 20, at Jenks Simmons Field House, El Reno. The Rev. Robert Pinezaddleby, the Rev. Jerry Ervin and the Rev. Robin Tiger will officiate. Burial in Concho Cemetery will be directed by Huber-Benson Funeral Home.

He was born Sept. 13, 1929, at Calumet to Fred and Dulcie (WHITEBIRD) BUSHYHEAD and died Saturday, April 15, 2000, at his home in El Reno.

He graduated from El Reno High School in 1948 and was all-state in basketball. He attended Centenary College, Shreveport, La., on a basketball scholarship. A veteran of the US Air Force, he became a full-time artist in 1970.

He traveled extensively throughout the US and Europe with his artwork and was selected as featured artist for the "96 Native American Festival" in Europe. In 1971 he founded the Cheyenne Nation Powwow in El Reno and from 1973-81 hosted an "Indian Nation Hour" program on two El Reno radio stations and from 1976-81 hosted his own Native American TV program on Channel 4 in Oklahoma City. In 1973 he co-founded the Oklahoma Indian Art League.

In 1981, as Cheyenne-Arapaho Tribes PIO, he worked with production staff on the movie, "Windwalker." Since 1976 he had directed Indian dance programs for the State Fair of Oklahoma and in 1992 became director of the Western Expo in Oklahoma City.

He also was active in tribal politics and in 1974 was instrumental in obtaining legal protection for Native American craftspersons working with feathers.

Survivors include a daughter, a brother and a daughter whom he adopted in the Indian way and six grandchildren.

Source: The Watonga Republican, Wednesday, April 19, 2000

Published in: on May 24, 2007 at 3:15 am  Comments (13)  

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13 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Really nice site you have here. I’ve been reading for a while, but this post made me want to say 2 thumbs up.

    Keep up the great work. Steve

  2. It was such an honor for me to meet and befriend this gifted, caring, and kind person. We met as hosts for the show “Unity” when it was first produced at KTVY-TV. It was my honor to know him and his beautiful wife Laura, who has great talents and ability of her own in the Indian way. I am so pleased to see a site dedicated to honor this fine and honorable man.

    I miss you, brother.


  3. Thank you for your comment, Roy. You are right. There was a no finer, nor more gifted, caring or kind person than Jerome. And the world is a much better place because of all he gave. My goal is for those who did not know him to have the chance to see him through our eyes. Please bless us by sharing your stories. Anyone who would like to share their story is welcome to email me.

    Thank you so much for writing.


  4. My friends have recently purchased works done by your father. From of all places a garage sale, while on vacation in South Dakota. One of the pictures is in titled After the battle and dated 1984. They are wonderful drawings I think done in pen and ink. I know that they will enjoy these for years to come in their home. May they write you if they have any questions.

  5. What a treasure your friends found at the yard sale. I know the art will be a blessing to their home. Please tell them they are welcome to write any time and I would love to see what they found. If they could scan the artwork and email it to me, I will post it for others to enjoy.

    Cheryl Davis

  6. Cheryl,
    My dad was GREAT friends with Jerome Bushyhead… They went to Centenary College together and kept up with each other over the years. My dad passed in June 1983. My mother kept up with Jerome after those years. I have a dozen paintings that were given to my dad and then passed on to me.

    Eric S. Harp

  7. Knowing what I learned from my late Grandmother your Father was a great man. He oftened visited her in her home in OKC. She too was born in Calumet. I beleive I was there once at her house but too young to remember. I will always treasure the acrylics my Grandmother left my mother she had purchased from Jerome. I look at them often as I do the pictures of them together.

    God bless You.


  8. I have read several posts on your site and ejoy reading them very much..I also have an panting of Jerome which my son got directly from Jerome..He and Jerome were friends and often met at shows and pow wows..My sone is also an artist by the indian name Osci Tuclo ( Two Arrows) and lives in Little Axe,OK..I live in Montana for many years..If you would like an scan of this panting i wil do that..It is of EAGLE IN FLIGHT with WARRIOR on bottom of the eagle..Thanks for your time..Jim.

  9. I purchased a drawing called “Strength” by J Bushyhead it is signed and dated 1984. I would like more info on it, I was unable to find it on the internet. It is beautiful. Thank You

    Marsha Sands

  10. Hello, We have a watercolor by Mr. Bushyhead that is titled “Winter Spirit” signed in 1975. Do you have any historical information on this piece? Thank you so much.

  11. Although this site was posted quite a while back… I want to say “Thank you” for remembering my dad. I was very fortunate to be taken as his only other daughter, shortly after I lost my real father. He shared that he knew nothing could take the place of my real dad but he wanted to be my dad & share our lives. I was very blessed the day he asked me. He became truly one of the loves of mine and my daughters lives. In having him as a close part of my life he taught me so many good ways to interact and be a part of the “white man’s” world, as he would often say. My sister Mari and I’s lives changed the moment he took his last breath here on earth. He is forever a part of us… he shows us he is still watching over us when the sun is lowering in the western sky. Thank you for sharing about our father, Jerome Bushyhead. “Coyote Walks By.” Blessings to you…

    From Cheryl: Blessings to you. Dad was easy to love, wasn’t he? I miss him too.

  12. This site is several years old but the memories of Jerome will last a great deal longer as he left such a meaningfull imprint on the people he touched personally and the people touched by his art..

    Thank you for this site and the ability to leave a ‘memory’ note. Jerome was a friend to my parents, Ray and Roberta Rush of El Reno, OK. Dad passed in ’06 & Mom in ’07. Dad spoke of Jerome often & loved his art pieces. My my Mom claimed to be his ‘adopted’ sister even though she had very little Indian blood. Jerome gave her a beautiful Squash Blossom necklace & she spoke of his generosity. I came across a picture of Jerome & my parents taken in the 1970’s or ’80’s. I’m grateful to have that photo.

    Blessings to you, Jerome’s family and friends. From Joyce.

  13. Cheryl, What a sad moment for my husband and myself when we found this site today. We had NO idea Jerome had passed away SO long ago. We met Jerome and Laura back in 1977-78 when my husband was attending Air Traffic School in Ok City. We lived in an apartment complex with our 2 young daughters at the time. The place was run by friends of Jerome’s, Rodney and Pat (it’s been so long, we forgot their last name). We immediately fell in love with this beautiful couple. We only knew them for about 3-5 months, but they both made an BIG impact on our lives. My husband is part Cherokee from LA and never knew any world but the white man’s world. Jerome showed us a picture he’d done of a man straddling a fence. One side of the man was Native American and the other side was a white man. He explained that this man was having trouble deciding who he really was because he was trying to live in both worlds. I don’t have any of Jerome’s paintings, but I do have a necklace that Laura gave me. Thank you for sharing this site. May God bless you and your loved ones. Denise Gwin

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