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009Don Brewer Wakpa


I was raised to be proud of my heritage. I consider

myself a progressive contemporary painter. I try to

capture the pride and spirituality of my people

blending traditional with contemporary.


Don Brewer, an enrolled member of the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, grew up in Thornton, CO. While he attended public school in Thornton, each summer he would return to his mother’s family in Cheyenne River or his father’s family at Pine Ridge where he was taught the values and traditions of the Dakota Lakota people. During high school, he started painting, a talent that he would develop and later become a career now spanning more than 20 years.

His Lakota name means river. Wakpa was his great-grandmother’s family name and when Don was a child she advised that if he used the name in a good way, he would be helped by the spirits. Today, Don likens his life to a river. Many experiences have led him to drastically different settings, as tributaries feed a river on its way to the ocean.

Brewer served in the U.S. Marines for four years. He returned to Colorado with the decision to make art his life’s work. Realizing the words of his grandmother were a prophecy, he made Wakpa his artist name.

Since then, his art career has spanned more than 20 years and his collectors span the globe. He is renowned for his use of color and the contemporary overview in his paintings with just a touch of realism. His paintings were influenced by impressionistic and abstract artists. Through his work, Wakpa strives to touch people, particularly the spiritual aspects, which at times are hard to reach and explain.

Wakpa presently is showing at the Pablo Milan Gallery in Santa Fe and in the past has shown in galleries throughout the West. His vibrant, culturally inspired contemporary paintings are in collections throughout the world.

Wakpa’s paintings have been used as the images for United Tribes International Powwow in 1986, 1991 and again in 2007. Additionally, his imagery has been used for the University of Nebraska Press book, Luther Standing Bear, and a CD cover for Silverwave Records.

Presently, his works are in the Akta Lakota Museum, Chamberlain, SD; Red Cloud Indian School, Pine Ridge; the Crazy Horse Museum in Custer, SD; Willis Tower (formerly Sears Tower) in Chicago, Ill. and the United Tribes Technical College Collection.

Wakpa currently is living in Colorado.

11 Responses to

  1. Hey Don.Kentucky Inn says hey.Victoria says love ya

  2. Avatar Margaret Wolf
    Margaret Wolf says:

    I cherish Don’s work.

  3. Avatar buffy from pub on pearl
    buffy from pub on pearl says:

    I was just looking @ the painting you did for me in 90 for my house warming. remember rainy. I thought i would see if you were still painting, and of course you are . i’m so happy for you. god bless….

  4. Hi Don….I still have my painting from the Pub on Pearl days. Hope all is going well for you. I love your new work. Paula (of Paula and Patrick)

  5. Avatar bill bentzen
    bill bentzen says:

    Howdy Don! Was looking at a print of yours you gave me years ago, and wondered how life was treating you. Have not seen you since leaving Colorado in ’95. Miss our chats at “The Pub on Pearl”. Lots of water under the bridge since then. Am living in S. Mpls. Mn., and would love to touch base w/ you again. Always enjoyed sharing laughs w/ you. Hope you are doing well my friend. I am still playing music and chasing women.
    Get in touch if you get a chance. Mail me back and we can chat.

    Take care, Billy B.

  6. Avatar dennis lucid
    dennis lucid says:

    I have one of your paintings dated 1989,no name, 2 Indian warriors, looks like a burial in background. The background is red. Could you give me some history on this painting? Might be interested in selling.

    • Avatar donbre5
      donbre5 says:

      Hi Dennis that painting is burial scene and is 1 of my 1st 25 paintings..I wanted it to be about transcending 1 world to the next

  7. Avatar Larry Wilson
    Larry Wilson says:

    Don, I have your Lakota Star painting that I bought from Third Canyon Gallery, in Denver, when you first put it up for sale.

    I’m needing to sell it, but I have no idea what it would bring. It is, IMHO, the finest painting you ever did.

    I still have the sales card from the gallery with the painting. Somewhere in my files, is the receipt.

    I am 1/32 North Carolina Cherokee, and your painting really spoke to me, which is why I bought it and have treasured it all of these years.