Native American students at St. Joseph’s Indian School recently worked with Artist Monte Yellow Bird.

Named "Black Pinto Horse" in ceremony, Yellow Bird's workshops provided a profound cultural and personal connection for St. Joseph’s students, in addition to teaching basic artistic techniques.

Yellow Bird’s time with the students focused on the oral traditions of the Plains people.

Monte Yellow Bird visits St. Joseph's students
Yellow Bird introduces fourth graders to their warrior shield project.
Using warrior shields, ledger art, and winter counts – techniques used by early tribal members – each student created a personal account of his/her life.

"A lot of the work I do is based on stories," Yellow Bird said. “In order for you to know where you are going, it's important to know where you came from. I use stories and art to introduce history, traditions and heritage to the students I work with.”

With the Native American students stories and art sparked further discussion of history and heritage. The topic inevitably turned to the students’ goals and accomplishments and making healthy choices to reach those goals. With Yellow Bird, weaving these topics together, students learned more than just art – they learned about life. 

Torrel staining his winter count
Torrel uses tea to stain his winter count, making it look more like a traditional hide.
Yellow Bird’s work in the classroom stems from a desire to foster cultural awareness. 

"All of our programs assist in cultural exchange and respect,” he said. “I try to help students reconnect with their culture; realizing they have a unique and personal story within that culture helps them respect it. Only then can they start to really respect the cultures of others.”

Monte Yellow Bird is a member of the Arikara and Hidatsa Nation from White Shield, North Dakota, and currently resides in Great Falls, Montana. He provides workshops on a variety of topics across the United States for children and adults. For more information on his art and educational programs, visit


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