Woodrow Wilson Crumbo

Class of
Woodrow Wilson Crumbo

Woodrow Wilson Crumbo

“Everybody sees the paintings, of course. What they don’t usually see is his work for his fellow Indians…Those things have all been done quietly…and in some cases…Woody is the only man who knows what was done.”
Will Rogers, Jr., 1978


Woodrow “Woody” Wilson Crumbo was orphaned at the age of seven and spent ten years living with first one family and then another before graduating from Chilocco Indian School (1930) and receiving a degree from the American Indian Institute in Kansas (1934). Performing and teaching Indian dances provided his income, in addition to preserving many tribal ceremonies. It was at the University of Oklahoma (1936-1938) where he studied with Oscar Jacobson and taught the first classes in jewelry-making offered at the institution, specializing in silversmithing. He invented and holds the patents on jewelry-making tools. He was commissioned by the U.S. Department of Interior in 1939 to paint murals on Interior Department building walls in Washington, D.C. From 1945 to mid-1948, he was employed by Thomas Gilcrease to assemble an American Indian art collection and, from 1948-1962, lived in Taos, New Mexico, where much of his major work was completed, including his most famous oil painting, “Spotted Wolf’s Last Request.” From 1960 to 1974 he directed the El Paso, Texas, Museum of Art. He returned to Oklahoma in 1974 to work and helped build the Citizen Potawatomi Cultural Heritage Center in Shawnee and he developed his technique to silk screen etchings and prints. His artwork is held in collections at numerous museums including the Smithsonian, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Gilcrease Museum in Tulsa.

Fun fact

While Director of Art at Bacone College (1938-1941) Crumbo designed and constructed the stained glass window in the Rose Chapel, which is one of the only Indian-created Native American religious motif stained glass windows in the world.

Oklahoma connections

Crumbo was born of Potawatomi heritage near Lexington, Oklahoma.










Relevant Exhibits

Green Country: From Lenapah to Prague

Green Country: From Lenapah to Prague

This exhibit features the lives of 18 Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductees from the 18-county region in northeast Oklahoma.
Culture on the Prairie

Culture on the Prairie

This exhibit features ten Oklahoma Hall of Fame inductees whose civic contributions defined Oklahoma’s early cultural community and helped establish many of Oklahoma’s museums during the twentieth century.