image of invitation

A commemorative unveiling of  “Chief Blackbird (Wazhinga Sabe),” an original oil painting by Nebraska artist Todd Williams, will be held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 8. Admission will be free. A traditional Omaha meal will follow.

The painting is a gift to the Center from the Kind World Foundation.

The unveiling will begin with a prayer by Sam Grant (Omaha). Songs will be sung by Tim Grant, Drum Keeper of the Omaha Tribe. Marisa Cummings (Omaha) will speak about the significance of territorial acknowledgement, and Chief Blackbird’s history of asserting sovereignty and practicing diplomacy.

Written by Cummings, text accompanies the painting, offering an Omaha perspective of Chief Blackbird whom the Lewis & Clark Expedition had hoped to meet in spring 1804 to promote American trade interests.

Cumming’s essay describes Chief Blackbird’s leadership of the Omaha people during turbulent times, from the 1780s until his death from smallpox in 1803. Chief Blackbird is buried near present-day Macy, Neb.

“Chief Blackbird continued the tradition of Umonhon socio-economic prosperity through the dominance of traditional trade routes which fell along the shores of lakes and rivers,” says Cummings.

Chief Blackbird was a man who asserted the inherently sovereign rights of the Umonhon and exercised his people’s socio-economic capacity through trade and alliances, says Cummings.

The painting, “Chief Blackbird,” was commissioned by the Nebraska Sesquicentennial to represent the state’s Dakota County. Artist Todd Williams is a Central City, Neb., native who studied painting and illustration at the Kansas City Art Institute where he earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree.

Williams’ work has been exhibited across the United States in gallery, museum and invitational exhibitions, such as the Gilcrease Museum, Great Plains Art Museum, Montgomery Museum of Fine Arts, “The American Miniatures Show,” Settlers West Gallery, Maynard Dixon Museum, Cincinnati’s “Great American Artists Exhibition,” and the Oil Painters of America National and Regional Exhibitions where Williams has been honored with the prestigious status of a Signature Member.

In the July/August 2012 Plein Air Salon Competition, Williams won the “First Place Award” selected by San Francisco gallery owner John Pence who described Williams’ work as “uniquely impressive” with an “an immense impact.”

In 2010, Williams won the “Founders Award” from the American Impressionist Society in its National Exhibition. In 2009, he won an “Award of Excellence” at the National Oil Painters of America National Juried Exhibition in Santa Fe, N.M. In 2008, he won the “Second Place Award” from the American Impressionist Society in its National Exhibition at Palm Desert, Calif.