An indigenous man with short black hair, wearhing a black fedora, red button down shirt, and two multi-color beaded necklaces stands in front of a railing above the Missouri River.

Steven Tamayo

Omaha, NE

Steven Tamayo is a traditional Sicangu Lakota artist whose family originates from Rosebud Reservation. As a young man, he studied traditional arts of the Umonhon under Howard Wolf, learning about materials, construction, and history surrounding native artifacts and regalia. Tamayo then returned to Rosebud where he earned his BFA from Sínte Gleska University and subsequently developed and taught in the traditional arts program. Tamayo teaches art, culture, artifact construction and preservation in schools and museums throughout the country. He is a regular consultant at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian; including for the exhibition, As We Grow, focused on traditional native games and toys. He has been an artist-in-residence and cultural consultant with Omaha Public Schools and teaches Native American Art History at Metropolitan Community College. Tamayo’s honors include the 2014 NAC Governor’s Heritage Art Award for excellence in cultural artistic expression, and the 2015 Omaha Entertainment and Arts Award for best two-person exhibition (with Paul High Horse). Tamayo has exhibited at The National Museum of the American Indian, Kaneko, Great Plains Museum, John G. Neihardt Center, and RNG Gallery. He has been commissioned to create buffalo robes for Willie Nelson and Neil Young and a tipi for President Obama. He was recently honored on the floor of the House of Representatives by Nebraska Representative, Don Bacon, as he read Tamayo’s history and accomplishments for Native American Heritage Month in November 2019.

4 years

Steven Tamayo is a traditional Sicangu Lakota artist, educator, and consultant whose practice is centered on the materials, construction, and history surrounding native artifacts and regalia.

Artist Bio

For Lakotas, art is an essential part of identity and how they pass on culture. Their buffalo robes each have a specific teaching purpose. Lakota paint hides with winter counts as a way to tell their stories, preserve their celebrations, and heal from traumas. Touching and telling the stories of Lakota cosmology and creation enables young people to learn about their place in the universe and on the earth. Painted hides show their role in the community and their growth into each phase of their lives. Through the painting of twelve traditional buffalo robes, Steven Tamayo and the Mní Wičhóni Nakíčižiŋ Wóuŋspe (Defenders of the Water School) will help revive lost but essential pieces of Lakota culture. These will be displayed in the wóuŋspe’s modern earth lodge for the community to learn from and use long-term.

Award Year

In Progress