Jump to Navigation

ShipShee Painting

Potawatomi artist Louis ShipShee painted this scene of bison on the Kansas plains.

Bison - Central Plains by Louis ShipShee

Louis ShipShee was born on the Prairie Band Potawatomi Reservation near Mayetta, Kansas, in 1896. A self-taught artist, he became well-known among collectors of Native American art for his portraits of noted figures, past and present.

His most famous works were of Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce and Chief Red Cloud of the Oglala Sioux, both done on sheepskin. ShipShee also painted works on deer and elk skins as well as velvet and canvas.

He preferred to paint portraits, but ShipShee also produced a number of landscapes.  These often included buffalo. One of those paintings, Bison - Central Plains, was donated to the Kansas Museum of History in 1999 by Charles King of Tucson, Arizona. The work is said to have been in the collection of Kansas Governor Alf Landon, and may have been given to Landon by ShipShee himself.

Louis ShipShee

Louis ShipShee moved from job to job, wanting to see what he could of the world. He served in the U.S. Army in World War I, stationed in Siberia. In the 1930s he worked as an instructor of interior decorating at Haskell Indian Junior College in Lawrence, Kansas, where he also gave art lessons. His skills in interior decorating proved successful in both Oklahoma and California.

ShipShee married and returned to Topeka in the early 1950s. Proud of his heritage, he acquired a collection of Native American artifacts, often by trading his own paintings. He died in Topeka in 1975 and is buried in the reservation cemetery on land his father had set aside for that purpose.



Note: The Kansas Museum of History frequently receives requests for appraisals of Louis ShipShee's works. Please note that the Museum and Kansas Historical Society cannot provide appraisals.

Entry: ShipShee Painting

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1999

Date Modified: February 2017

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.