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Richard Ray Whitman
Richard ray whitman.jpg
Richard Ray Whitman, 2010
Born T'so-ya-ha
(1949-05-14)May 14, 1949
Claremore, Oklahoma, USA
Nationality Yuchi-Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Education Institute of American Indian Arts, California Institute for the Arts, Oklahoma School of Photography
Known for Photography, mixed-media, film, painting
Notable work(s) Street Chiefs

Richard Ray Whitman (born 1949) is a Yuchi-Muscogee Creek multidisciplinary visual artist, poet, and actor. He is enrolled in the Muscogee Creek Nation and lives in Oklahoma.[1][2]


Richard Ray Whitman was born in Claremore, Oklahoma on 14 May 1949.[3] His maternal grandmother was Polly Long.[1] Like many Yuchis, Whitman is enrolled in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, and his Yuchi name is T'so-ya-ha.[4] He grew up in Gypsy, Oklahoma and attended Bristow High School. For college, he attended the Institute of American Indian Arts and the California Institute of the Arts. Whitman also studied at the Oklahoma School of Photography in Oklahoma City.[1]

Whitman began his art career as a painter but also expanded to photography, installation, and video art.[4] In 1973, he participated in the People’s Struggle at Wounded Knee[3] and created art during the struggle.[1]


Whitman is known for his black-and-white photography portraying contemporary Native realities, especially his "Street Chiefs Series" from the 1970s and 1980s. "Street Chiefs" features images of homeless Native men, primarily in downtown Oklahoma City. "The contemporary Indian in the isolation of the city canyons and rural reservations is avoided. The boredom, pain, frustration, poverty of the reality-counterbalance of our lives is harsh, unattractive, and unmarketable."[2] His photographic portraits are compassionate and empathetic to the lives of homeless natives and places them in the larger context of Indian Removal, which forced tribes from all over the country to Indian Territory.[4]

From the 1980s onward, Whitman has incorporated text and computer graphics in his photography to create collage or mixed media. His socio-politically informed work often deals with the issues of homeland and dispossession.[4]

Videography and acting career[edit]

Collaborating with Yuchi poet and videography Joe Dale Tate Nevaquaya, Whitman created video to document the Yuchi language. Together they worked with French filmmaker Pierre Lobstein in the 1990s. Whitman read T.C. Cannon's poetry in the video "Mazerunner: The Life and Art of T.C. Cannon" which was directed and edited by Phillip Albert. This work was subsequently screened at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (3/19/1994) and was presented on the Bravo Cable Channel and the Independent Film Channel from May, 1995 through June, 1996.


  • "Barking Water" (2009). Played Frankie.[5]
  • "The Only Good Indian" (2009). Played father of stolen child[5]
  • "Missionary Man" (2007). Played Chief Dan[5]
  • "Four Sheets to the Wind" (2007). Directed by Sterlin Harjo, Whitman played Frankie Smallhill
  • "Rune" (2006). Played Tecpatel[5]
  • "American Indian Graffiti: This Thing Life" (2003). Played Barry[5]
  • "Lakota Woman: Siege at Wounded Knee" (1994). Played Carter Camp.[5]
  • "The Grand Circle" (1994). Co-produced with Joe Dale Tate Nevaquaya and Pierre Lobstein
  • "Mazerunner: The Life and Art of T.C. Cannon" (1993). Directed and edited by Phillip Albert; T.C. Cannon poetry read by Richard Ray Whitman.
  • "Humanity's Voice" (1992). Co-produced with Joe Dale Tate Nevaquaya and Pierre Lobstein
  • "Carriers of the Light" (1990). Co-produced with Joe Dale Tate Nevaquaya and Pierre Lobstein
  • "War Party" (1988). Played Harold, directed by Franc Roddam[5]


  • We're invisible, dangerously invisible, until they want us to sing and dance and be tourist attractions.[4]
  • ...I am asked many times..., "do I consider myself a traditional Indian or a contemporary Indian?" Well, I consider myself both at the same moment. Our traditions and our experiences in contemporary life are here at the present time. Our ancestors left us a way which has been brought right up to this moment, to this very moment that I speak to you. So, from the time we are born we are political. Because we have been colonized, the nature of our experience is political, but it doesn't lessen our experience, though.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Lester, 619
  2. ^ a b Lippard, 216
  3. ^ a b Vigil, Jennifer C. "Richard Ray Whitman." Museum of Contemporary Native Arts: Vision Project." (retrieved 10 May 2011)
  4. ^ a b c d e f Abbott, Larry. Richard Ray Whitman, Yuchi. A Time of Visions. (retrieved 25 August 2009)
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Richard Ray Whitman. The Internet Movie Database. (retrieved 25 August 2009)


  • Lester, Patrick D. The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters. Norman: Oklahoma University Press, 1995. ISBN 0-8061-9936-9.
  • Lippard, Lucy. Mixed Blessings: New Art in a Multicultural America. New York: The New Press, 2000. ISBN 1-56584-573-0.

External links[edit]

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Ray_Whitman — Please support Wikipedia.
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9138 videos foundNext > 

An Interview with Richard Ray Whitman

"28 Stones" interviews Richard Ray Whitman, "a Yuchi-Muscogee Creek multidisciplinary visual artist, poet, and actor, who is enrolled in the Muscogee Creek N...


Episode#400 of Native News Today, air date 3/8/14, featuring the 400th episode look back and an interview with Richard Ray Whitman and featuring Native busin...



American Indian Film Festival, Barking Water

"Barking Water" director Sterlin Harjo, takes home the award for "Best Film" (starring Casey Camp Horinek and Richard Ray Whitman) at the 34th annual America...

"Barking Water" on Sundance Channel Asia

Frankie (Richard Ray Whitman) is dying and refuses to do so in a hospital. He convinces Irene (Casey Camp-Horinek), an old flame, to spring him out and drive...

On Native Ground interviews Richard Whitman from Wounded Knee

On Native Ground reports from the opening of the film Wounded Knee at the Sundance Film Festival. Carly Kohler interviews Richard Whitman.

part 1. American Indian Graffiti: Aa'an & Barry's story

part 1. American Indian Graffiti" is a feature film about four intertwining stories. This is one of them. In this story, Barry (Richard Ray Whitman) has chos...

Neither Wolf Nor Dog - MOVIE TEASER

Here is the first teaser for our movie adaptation of the novel Neither Wolf Nor Dog by Kent Nerburn starring Dave Bald Eagle,Christopher Sweeney and Richard ...

Part 4. American Indian Graffiti: A'an & Barry's story

Part 4. American Indian Graffiti" is a feature film about four intertwining stories. This is one of them. In this story, Barry (Richard Ray Whitman) has chos...

Lost in Oklahoma Chapter 1

A brief history of the continuing effects of the allotment era on Oklahoma Indians. Mary Helen Deer, Christopher Linn (Smith), Richard Ray Whitman and Vicki ...

9138 videos foundNext > 

37 news items

Indian Country Today Media Network

Indian Country Today Media Network
Wed, 12 Nov 2014 11:01:15 -0800

Drunktown's Finest, directed by Sydney Freeland, won Best Film, with cast members Morningstar Angeline and Richard Ray Whitman picking up awards for Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Jeff Barnaby was hailed as Best Director for ...

Cherry Hill Courier Post

Cherry Hill Courier Post
Fri, 14 Nov 2014 06:03:45 -0800

Still, the film is moving and human. Rather than objecting to her sexuality, Felixia's traditional grandfather (a solid Richard Ray Whitman) shows understanding and care. It's the kind of moment that illustrates the movie is more about people than ...

Indian Country Today Media Network

Indian Country Today Media Network
Wed, 05 Nov 2014 09:41:42 -0800

Micah Wesley is an artist whose career trajectory I have watched. He is a contemporary Kiowa/Muscogee Creek artist and I see his work as following a tradition of artists/writers like T.C Cannon, Joy Harjo, N. Scott Momaday, Richard Ray Whitman and ...

DePauw University

DePauw University
Thu, 18 Sep 2014 13:27:44 -0700

American artists of African, Arab European, Asian, Latino and Native American descent explore their heritage in this vivid and diverse exhibition using a wide variety of media. The artists examine patriotism, communication, the struggle for acceptance ...
A.V. Club
Mon, 18 Aug 2014 22:09:09 -0700

... a roadside ditch after yet another night of boozing and fighting, Virgil is distraught about the fact that his wife Agnes (Julia Jones) has left him, and also taken the beloved gun he received years earlier from his father, John First Raise ...

New York Times

New York Times
Wed, 09 Jul 2014 14:12:11 -0700

The rapport and understanding between Felixia and her serene grandfather, a medicine man (Richard Ray Whitman) is one example of a reprieve from the ham-handedness of the plot devices and some of the performances. Ms. Freeland has faith in these ...
The Banner-Graphic
Sun, 28 Sep 2014 17:00:00 -0700

In Richard Ray Whitman's "Do Indians Go to Santa Fe When They Die?" and Edgar Heap of "Birds' Telling Many Magpies, Telling Black Wolf, Telling Hachivi," the artists use their work to question the treatment of Native Americans in the past and present.
The DePauw
Fri, 26 Sep 2014 11:50:48 -0700

Assimilation into American culture, examining American subcultures, and contemplating the 'melting pot' of America. These are just some of the issues presented in the Infinite Mirror: Images of American Identity exhibit that opened in the Art Gallery ...

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