2014 First Place Painting, Santa Fe Indian Market

2013 Best Category Abstract Painting

& First Place Transparent Watercolor, Santa Fe Indian Market

2112 First Place Painting, Tulsa Indian Arts Festival

2011 Third Place Painting, Red Earth Indian Arts Festival

2011 Featured Artist, Oklahoma Audubon Society

2010 Moscelyn Larkin Cultural Achievement Award, Tulsa Commission on Indian Affairs

2009 Best of Category Miniatures

& 2nd Place Painting, Trail of Tears Art Show, Tahlequah

2009 Best of Category Painting, Tulsa Indian Arts Festival

2008 Best of Category Painting, Red Earth Arts Festival

2008 First Place Miniatures, Santa Fe Indian Market

2005 2nd Place Miniatures, Santa Fe Indian Market

2004 1st & 2nd place Miniatures, Santa Fe Indian Market

2004 Gallup Ceremonial Poster Artist, Gallup, New Mexico  

2002 Best Miniature, Trail of Tears Art Show, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

                        2000 Best Miniature, Trail of Tears Art Show, Tahlequah, Oklahoma                           

1994 Second Place Painting, Kituwah Art Show, Asheville, North Carolina

1994 Best Miniature, Trail of Tears Art Show, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

1992 Best of Class Miniatures, Intertribal Indian Ceremonial Association, Gallup, New Mexico

1991 Gold Medal, Graphics, American Indian and Cowboy Artists Association, Wichita, Kansas

1991 Best Miniature Painting, Tom Mullarky Award; Best in Category,

Gallup Inter-tribal Ceremonial Association, Gallup, New Mexico

1988 First Place Watercolors, Colorado Indian Market, Denver, Colorado

1988 Best in Category Graphics, Tsa-La-Gi Museum, Tahlequah, Oklahoma

1986 Grand Award, OIO Show, Kirkpatrick Center of the American Indian, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma


Merlin Little Thunder

Merlin little thunder

“While I often get my ideas through visions at three in the morning, when I begin the painting, I do research either in books or through talking to people about protocol and portrayal. The sad thing is much of this information is being lost, buried with those elders who do not wish it to be known.”

                —Merlin Little Thunder


Southern Cheyenne Artist

The Artist on his Work

Merlin Little Thunder was born in 1956 at Clinton Indian Hospital to George and Connie Little Thunder. An enrolled member of the Southern Cheyenne tribe, he attended school in the Oklahoma towns of Longdale, Okmulgee, and Canton.

Little Thunder has been painting professionally since 1980 and has won numerous awards for his work, especially in the miniature category. His paintings are highly detailed and can be divided in two subject areas: landscapes including images of Cheyenne people from the turn of the century and medicine paintings dealing with spiritual matters.

His paintings are held in both private and public collections, including at the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.; the Fred Jones Museum in Norman, Oklahoma; and the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City. His works have also been displayed at the Governor’s Gallery at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City and at the Wickenburg Museum in Phoenix, Arizona.

Little Thunder is a co-founder of Thunder Road Theatre in Tulsa, and he works regularly with the alternative education students in Canton, Oklahoma.

Articles on Little Thunder’s work have appeared in Southwest Art and Oklahoma Today magazines, and his art has appeared on book covers for the University of Nebraska Press and most recently a selection of his work was featured in the book A Life Made with Artists: Doris Littrell and the Oklahoma Native Art Scene from The RoadRunner Press.

His goal as an artist is to record in his paintings the cultural information he has learned about the Southern Cheyenne throughout his life for generations to come. 

One of his next projects is a picture book collaboration with his wife, author Julie Pearson Little Thunder, for The RoadRunner Press of Oklahoma City.  The book will be a retelling of a classic Southern Cheyenne swan legend