William Standing

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William Standing
Fire Bear

July 27, 1904
DiedJune 27, 1951
EducationUniversity of Oklahoma
Haskell Indian Nations University
OccupationPainter, illustrator
Spouse(s)Nancy Standing
RelativesWi-jún-jon (great-grandfather)

William Standing, also known as Fire Bear (July 27, 1904 – June 27, 1951) was an American painter and illustrator. He was Assiniboine, and his work depicted the lives of Native Americans in the Northwestern United States.

Early life[edit]

Standing was born on July 27, 1904 on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation near Oswego, Montana.[1][2][3] He was Assiniboine;[4] his great-grandfather, Wi-jún-jon, was the chief of the Assiniboine tribe.[5] His Assiniboine name, Fire Bear, was the same as his grandfather's.[2]

Standing was educated on the Fort Peck Indian Reservation until he went to a boarding school run by Presbyterian missionaries in Wolf Point, Montana.[1][5] He attended the University of Oklahoma thanks to Oscar Jacobson,[1] and he graduated from Haskell Indian Nations University in 1924.[5][6]


Standing began his career as an interior designer in Kansas.[1] He moved back to Montana to become a painter, and he used pens, inks and oil to create his artwork.[7] His paintings and postcard illustrations depicted the American West, especially the lives of Native Americans in the Northwestern United States.[2][8]

Standing did many portraits of his grandfather and his great-grandfather.[9] He also did a portrait of Charles Curtis, the 31st Vice President of the United States.[2] He illustrated the book Land of Naboka in 1942.[10]

His artwork was exhibited at the Arts Club of Washington as well as in Paris, France.[5] According to his obituary in the Great Falls Tribune, he became "one of Montana's best known contemporary artists."[7]

Personal life, death and legacy[edit]

Standing had a child with his wife Nancy.[6] They resided in Poplar, Montana.[3]

Standing died in a car accident near Zortman in Phillips County on June 27, 1951,[6] and his body was taken to Malta.[2][7][8] He was 46. Some of his work is in the permanent collections of the Hockaday Museum of Art in Kalispell and the University of Montana's Montana Museum of Art & Culture in Missoula.[6][11]


  1. ^ a b c d "Standing, William (1904-1951)". Montana Historical Society Museum Collections Online. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  2. ^ a b c d e "William Standing, Artist, Killed In Auto Accident". The Independent-Record. Helena, Montana. June 28, 1951. p. 2. Retrieved December 13, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ a b "State Historical Society Has 21 Oil Paintings on Loan for Centennial Year". The Independent-Record. Helena, Montana. December 8, 1963. p. 6. Retrieved December 15, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  4. ^ "Title: William Standing (1904-1951): versatile Assiniboin artist". Human Relations Area Files. Yale University. Retrieved December 13, 2018.
  5. ^ a b c d Gillette, F. B. (June 28, 1931). "Indian Has Reputation as Painter. Artist Comes From Long Line of Tribal Leaders; Works Win Acclaim". Great Falls Tribune. p. 13. Retrieved December 15, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  6. ^ a b c d "William Standing (1904 - 1951)". Hockaday Museum of Art. Retrieved December 15, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c "Indian Artist Killed...". Great Falls Tribune. Great Falls, Montana. June 28, 1951. p. 1. Retrieved December 13, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  8. ^ a b "Indian Artist Dies In Auto Crash". The Salt Lake Tribune. June 29, 1951. p. 29. Retrieved December 13, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  9. ^ "Indian's Works Being Featured. Butte Art Center Announces Exhibit by William Standing". The Montana Standard. Butte, Montana. August 21, 1938. p. 8. Retrieved December 15, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  10. ^ McFarlane, Jane (August 26, 2001). "William Standing exhibit. Standing tall. Museum resurrects works and memories of straight-shooting Assiniboine artist". Great Falls Tribune. p. 47. Retrieved December 15, 2018 – via Newspapers.com.
  11. ^ "Permanent Collection". Montana Museum of Art & Culture. University of Montana. Retrieved December 15, 2018.