Home |  PublicationsEncyclopedia |  Big Bow, Woodrow Wilson

The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture

Woody Big Bow, 1942
(2012.201.B0089.0732, Oklahoma Publishing Company Photography Collection, OHS).


A Kiowa artist and grandson of a Kiowa chief, Woodrow Wilson "Woody" Big Bow was born in Carnegie, Oklahoma, on January 29, 1914. As a teenager he attended classes at the University of Oklahoma at Norman, and under the personal guidance of Oscar B. Jacobson he took advantage of the opportunity to receive instruction in painting. At the university he was one of several young Kiowa artists whose work was featured in exhibitions in Europe and subsequently published in folio editions of American Indian art, the first of their kind ever issued.

Big Bow graduated from the University of Oklahoma in 1939 and afterward worked variously as a set painter for Western films and as a builder and contractor. He also produced mural decorations for the RCA Building in New York City and the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. During World War II he designed the red and yellow Thunderbird insignia for Oklahoma's famed Forty-fifth Infantry Division.

Big Bow lived in Yukon in later years, exhibiting widely before his death in 1988. His work can be seen in a number of public collections, including the Gilcrease and Philbrook museums in Tulsa, the Oklahoma Historical Society in Oklahoma City, the University of Oklahoma Museum of Art at Norman, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C., the Heritage Center at the Red Cloud Indian School in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, and the Wichita Art Museum in Wichita, Kansas.

David C. Hunt


Jeanne D'Ucel, Indian Artists from Oklahoma (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964).

Oscar B. Jacobson, Kiowa Indian Art (Nice, France: C. Szwedzicki, 1929).

Oscar B. Jacobson and Jeanne D'Ucel, American Indian Painters (Nice, France: C. Szwedzicki, 1950).

Patrick D. Lester, The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters (Tulsa, Okla.: SIR Publications, 1995).

Jeanne O. Snodgrass, American Indian Painters, A Biographical Directory (New York: The Museum of the American Indian, Heye Foundation, 1968).


The following (as per The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition) is the preferred citation for articles:
David C. Hunt, “Big Bow, Woodrow Wilson,” The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture, https://www.okhistory.org/publications/enc/entry?entry=BI001.

Published January 15, 2010
Last updated January 3, 2018

Copyright and Terms of Use

No part of this site may be construed as in the public domain.

Copyright to all articles and other content in the online and print versions of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History is held by the Oklahoma Historical Society (OHS). This includes individual articles (copyright to OHS by author assignment) and corporately (as a complete body of work), including web design, graphics, searching functions, and listing/browsing methods. Copyright to all of these materials is protected under United States and International law.

Users agree not to download, copy, modify, sell, lease, rent, reprint, or otherwise distribute these materials, or to link to these materials on another web site, without authorization of the Oklahoma Historical Society. Individual users must determine if their use of the Materials falls under United States copyright law's "Fair Use" guidelines and does not infringe on the proprietary rights of the Oklahoma Historical Society as the legal copyright holder of The Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and part or in whole.