Donald D. Ruleaux was born in Martin, South Dakota in 1931 to an English mother and a French Canadian/American Indian father. An enrolled member of the Oglala Lakota Tribe, he spent his early childhood on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, reflected in his portrayal of the Lakota people.
Ruleaux graduated from high school in Gordon, NE, in 1950. His post-secondary education included attending the Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO, and George Washington University, Washington, DC. He received a Bachelor of Art in Art Education from Chadron State College, Chadron, NE, and a Master’s of Art Education from the Arizona State University, Tempe, AZ.
Ruleaux’s teaching experience spanned several decades and included grade schools, high schools, colleges, and universities in South Dakota and Nebraska. He also worked as a cartographer for the United States Geological Survey, a package designer for Bemis Brothers Bag Company, and an artist/draftsman for the movie “Lakota Woman” (1994), filmed in the Black Hills area.
Ruleaux worked in many different mediums and styles as an artist but was best known for his rare silverpoint drawings and beautiful watercolors.
During his career, Ruleaux won many awards, grants, and prizes and exhibited widely throughout the country. His work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Nebraska Art, Kearney, NE.; Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, Washington, DC; the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Washington, DC; Indian Health Services, Pine Ridge and Kyle, SD, and Lame Deer, MT; the Aktá Lakota Museum, St. Joseph’s Indian School, Chamberlain, SD; the Dahl Arts Center, Rapid City, SD; the University of South Dakota Galleries, Vermillion, SD; South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD; DeRance Corporation, Milwaukee, WI; and The Heritage Center at Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge, SD.
The importance of his work in the context of American Indian art was apparent by his inclusion in “The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters” and “Who’s Who Among the Sioux.” He also served as an advisor for the traveling exhibit “Heartdreams and Legends: Story of Two Peoples,” a survey of Northern Plains indigenous artists and the indigenous Aboriginal artists of New South Wales, Australia.
Donald D. Ruleaux passed away on November 25, 2020, in Chadron, Nebraska.