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Russell Cournoyer

Yankton Sioux
(b. 1969)

Russell Cournoyer, an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe, was born in Wagner, South Dakota. He graduated from Marty Indian School, Marty, South Dakota in 1986 and currently resides in his home state.

At a very young age, Cournoyer dreamt of becoming an artist. He practiced drawing with colored pencils and ink at work. When in school, he drew and experimented with acrylic paints or other mediums.

A self-taught artist, Cournoyer believes his style is unique and personal. Over the years, he has admired and studied many other artists’ work. He has strived to develop his skills in handling the tools of his profession. His skills are perhaps most evident in his work titled Fool Bull. This piece depicts a Brule Lakota medicine man created in graphite on paper.

He grew up around the heritage and culture of the Yankton Sioux and always trys to portray the vast beauty and richness of his people’s culture. Cournoyer has very strong feelings about the importance of preserving tribal heritage and culture not only in books, but through artwork as well. He continually finds sources of inspiration and reflects those sources in new, exciting works.

After realizing his own potential, Cournoyer started showing his work in art shows and markets. Prior to focusing on his career in art, the artist drew or painted portraits. Then, he literally gave them away.

His first show was in 1997 at the Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. Since then, he has entered work in the Red Cloud Indian Art Show at Pine Ridge, South Dakota; the Spearfish Winter Art Show in Spearfish, South Dakota and at the Northern Plains Tribal Art Show in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.


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