Del Iron Cloud Lakota Artist Hunkpapa

Del Iron Cloud
Hunkpapa Lakota

Del Iron Cloud was born at Little Eagle, South Dakota on the Standing Rock Reservation. At age five, while living with his grandmother, he created his first "masterpiece." Unfortunately, the canvas was her kitchen door, and a bucket of water and a sponge quickly replaced his crayons.

In fourth-grade, while attending St. Joseph’s Indian School at Chamberlain, South Dakota, he won his first art contest. The students were asked to draw posters showing what they wanted to be when they grew up. Del drew a soldier with binoculars crouching in the back of an army truck with explosions bursting in the background. He wrote under it, “I want to be an Army man to protect my country.”

Upon graduating from high school in 1968, he entered the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Two years later, he received his postgraduate degree and went on to attend the American Academy of Art in Chicago.

In 1971, he received his draft notice and enlisted in the US Air Force. While stationed in England, Iron Cloud had a chance to study the European artists and present one-man shows. Eventually, the Air Force recognized his immense talent and transferred him to the graphics department.

Throughout his military career, Iron Cloud continued to work in his studio and exhibit his art. His work varies from realistic portraiture and military jets to airbrushed motorcycles, murals and Indian and western art. In 1991, Iron Cloud retired from the Air Force after serving 20 years.

Since his retirement, Iron Cloud has re-focused himself on his first love: painting. As an established artist, he has won many awards and gained much recognition for his talent. His ability to paint military subjects and Native American art has made Iron Cloud one of the most versatile Native American artists today.