JD Challenger is considered America's leading painter of Native Americans. He was born in Oklahoma with a creative fire that first began to smolder at a young age. He learned color, shading, light and shadow from closely observing nature and drawing what he saw. Always fascinated by the culture and customs of the Native Americans near to whom he lived and soon considered his closest friends, the young Challenger absorbed their stories and traditions.
He sketched his observations of their lives. At first, he was reluctant to show his paintings in public for fear of offending a people he greatly admired. Upon witnessing a Ghost Dance ceremony, Challenger discovered his mission and what he wanted to paint. With encouragement from friends, he showed his work to some Native Americans, one of whom was a holy man. Challenger was told, "Your path is to tell our story and educate others."