First American Art Magazine No. 21, Winter 2018/19 - Page 59

NORMA HOWARD ’em. That’s when I started doing bead- work. I put a little Thunderbird in some hair ornaments, and I put my heart and soul into that beading. We were going to a Fourth of July evening over in Kinta. My sister said, “Don’t wear those, they’re going to call you Nnnnnnndian!” And sure enough, I walked in there with my parted hair and beadwork—and I was cute, I was 14 years old—and I could hear, “Woowoowoowoowoo,” like that. This was 1972, before I started painting. And that’s what motivated me to be an artist because I’m kind of a stubborn person. That’s why I became a good artist. That motivates me. Things’ll come to you—it hurts your feelings and it puts you down and maybe at night you might have your little ol’ crying—but it motivates you. That made me who I am now. I’m a better artist because of that. So they’re saying, “Squaw, look at that squaw! She looks like a real squaw!” And I stood there and walked on, and said, I’m not going to let it get to me. The way I was, I didn’t think it would get to me—but it did. So I went in that restroom, and I took off those hair ornaments. Sometimes things can defeat you, but that don’t mean you’re defeated. I’m not going to lie to you. It hurt my feel- ings, but you move on from that as you get older. I understand that I’m growing old, but in my heart I still feel like I’m 13 or 14. That’s the thing about being who you are. There’s no big difference between then and now, because I am who I am. You never forget about those times. It’s still here. But you use it to motivate you. You’ve talked about the difference in how people react to you when you’re in Santa Fe or other big art markets and how you’re treated locally in Oklahoma. You’re a world-famous artist, but I imagine lots of folks around here don’t know that. It’s like night and day. When I go to Santa Fe, I’m respected. That touches me. In the old days I was looked down on as just another little old Indian girl, poor Indian. When I go to Indian Market or somewhere like that, I’m thankful that I’m valued for what I do. But you know, I’m here, and I make the most of it. Norma Howard is represented by Blue Rain Gallery in Santa Fe and Exhibit C Gallery in Oklahoma City. WINTER 2018/19 | 57