Department of Interior
Cruz McDaniels II
Cruz McDaniels, II, is a professional artist and educator. He teaches at Riverside Indian School in Anadarko, Okla., which is administered through the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Born in Lawton, Okla., McDaniels is of Kiowa, Lakota and Zuni descent. He paints under the name Set-Koy-Key (Tsait, Coy-Key) - Man Who Lives with Bears. He credits his parents Maude and Paul McDaniels for helping him to achieve his success, saying they were very good role models.

McDaniels graduated from Anadarko High School in Andadarko, Okla., in 1968 and attended Southwestern Oklahoma State University in Weatherford, Okla. He soon left school to join the U.S. Marine Corps, serving six years, including a tour in East Asia. He then returned to Oklahoma State University, eventually receiving two degrees -- a bachelor of arts in art and physical education in 1978 and, using the GI Bill, a master of arts in art and physical education in 1981.

In high school, McDaniels was introduced to the work of Michelangelo and recalls how he loved to look at pictures of the Sistine Chapel. "That is where I learned to love painting," he says. He was painting Native American people and scenes when he was 16.

McDaniels began painting professionally in 1976 and launched his teaching career in 1980 at Crownpoint Boarding School in New Mexico. Three years later he began teaching art at Crownpoint High School, where most of the students are Navajo. He taught in New Mexico for eight years before becoming an art teacher at Riverside Indian School, where he has taught for the past 18 years.

While in New Mexico, he exhibited his work at numerous art shows and some of his pieces have been exhibited in New York, Los Angeles, Houston and Tokyo. He has won numerous awards, including placing in the top three at art competitions at the American Indian Exposition in Anadarko, Okla., and at the Gallup Ceremonials in Gallup, New Mexico. His poster Zuni Rain was chosen as the Gallup Ceremonial poster for 2001.

His distinguished teaching career is directly reflected in the achievements of his students, who routinely secure honors in juried competitions. McDaniels has introduced basic art skills to his students and taught basic techniques of pencil, watercolor, acrylic and air-brush. He also has incorporated art history into his classes.

McDaniels enjoys teaching art at Riverside because of the diversity of his students. "In New Mexico, I taught students of one tribe," he says. "In Oklahoma, I teach students of all tribes. The students and faculty have been very good to me."

"My students have always done very well at art shows," McDaniels notes. "We have won many awards and honors. Riverside students, for example, recently entered eight art shows and won seven Best of Shows."

He has had many outstanding art students at Riverside, including Myron Wahnee, another Living Legacy Award recipient. "He is a remarkable artist and it is a joy to teach him," McDaniels said of Wahnee. "His piece Elk has been chosen to be in the annual American Indian Art calendar for 2005.

"This [Living Legacy Award] is a great honor for Myron and I foresee a great career for him in the future," McDaniels says. "He has told me that he wants to get his education degree, so that he can come back to Riverside and take my place. I would surely love to see that happen."