Painter, Dancer, Chief Featured In New American Indian Calendar

Kevan Goff Published: December 7, 1990

WOOGEE (George) Watchetaker is a honest-to-gosh legend.

Just ask him.

An American Indian with a keen sense of humor about himself and the world around him, Watchetaker is a commanding character in his 70s who likes tell tall tales and pull your leg.

Known as everything from an accomplished painter to a fancy dancer to a time-honored Comanche chief, Watchetaker grew up in Paradise Valley near Elgin and describes himself as a "real country boy."

Nevertheless, his paintings reflect a man of tradition who follows strict, self-imposed guidelines in order to re-create the world of his American Indian ancestors through art.

"I never went to art school," Watchetaker said. "I started rough paintings off and on when I was young in the 1930s. I was inspired by other Indians' artwork.

"There were just a few Indian artists then. I never knew if I was good enough. I'd give my paintings away.

"I just kept trying and trying ... " During the 1940s, Watchetaker priced his work at $2 or $3 per painting. In the 1950s, he still dabbled in paint, but became passionate about fancy dancing.

He eventually retired in 1965 as a seven-time national and three-time world champion fancy dancer.

"I used to drink a bit and I liked to buy,' he said, "but I finally decided this ain't doing me any good. I decided I'd better do something, so I started painting seriously."

Watchetaker sneaked into an art show at Shepherd Mall in Oklahoma City with some of his art.

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