Honoring Native American Artists

Leslie Johnson


Leslie Johnson began her interest in art as a young child. She began beading while a social worker for her own mental health. She uses semi-precious stones, pearls and Swarovski crystals to create one of  kind patterns for her necklace/earring sets. Most designs/combinations come from dreams or feelings that she gets when working with the different stones many times creating a feel for her own (Native American/African American) in colors and patterns. She uses silver and gold plated findings to complete designs.

You can find her beautiful and original jewelry here:





Edwin Dennis (Hayna) Brown


Edwin Dennis Brown (Ho-Chunk) fondly known as Hayna (meaning 2nd Son in the Ho-Chunk language) is a respected artist and a roadman of the Native American Church. He was born in 1941 in Winnebago, Nebraska. Hayna first moved west to Los Angeles in 1967 and then moved to the Bay Area in 1974.

Hayna has been an artist for as long as he can remember. In 1974, Hayna met Pauline Miller (Pomo/Coast Miwok and Costanoan) and they were married in 1979. They have three children, Wendy, Paul, and Jessica.

Hayna attended Santa Fe’s Institute of American Indian Art as well as the University of Nevada at Reno. His paintings focus on his spirituality and Native culture. He works in acrylic and oil, wood and linocuts, etchings and other print techniques.

Hayna’s work has been shown at the National Museum of the Native American in DC. He has produced CD covers for Native American Singers such as Chanti Pierce and Gerald Primeaux as well did the cover art for the documentaryThe Red Road to Sobriety by filmmaker Gary Rhine (Kifaru Productions). Hayna also had a painting in Huston Smith’s book One Nation under God. In addition to his artwork, Hayna played the role of Virgil in Benjamin Bratt’s flim, La Mission.

Hayna met Leatrice Mikkelsen, a well known Native American artist, in 1978 through Pauline who was taking one of Leatrice’s College of Marin classes. Leatrice recognized not only Hayna’s love of art, but his immense talent and encouraged him to further pursue his training and work. Leatrice and her husband at the time, Peter Mikkelsen, were touched by the character and way of Hayna and his wife Pauline so much so they chose them to be the God parents of their youngest daughter, Hadezbah. 

Hayna worked in collaboration with fellow artist Leatrice Mikkelsen on the White Buffalo painting which is the logo for the White Buffalo Woman Council. Leatrice sought out his expertise with the details of the buffalo face knowing Hayna’s extraordinary abilities as a realist painter. He is able to beautifully capture the details and emotions of the faces of all creatures. She was honored to collaborate with him on the White Buffalo painting.


Leatrice Mikkelsen

LeatriceMikkelsenPhotoLeatrice Mikkelsen was a Diné (Navajo) and Wyandotte painter and mixed media artist and activist.  As a young child while her parents worked for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, her family travelled and lived on many Native reservations. During WWI, they stayed on the Gila River and Colorado River Indian Reservations which were being used as Japanese Internment camps.

Her Native heritage and her early experiences living on the various Native reservations alongside the internment camps deeply influenced her work. She was also influenced by Karuk painter Clara Barney, Pomo basket weaver Mabel McKay, Japanese brushwork artist Kazuaki Tanahashi, and surrealist painters such as Max Ernst and Paul Klee.

Leatrice received her B.A. in Art from Dominican College and her Master of Fine Art from San Francisco State. In the 1960’s, she was the art director at the American Indian Historical Society and art editor of the Native Historian.  Locally she made an impact by being instrumental in the creation of the Native American Studies program at College of Marin. She was the first Native person to serve on the board of the Marin Housing Authority. Her larger mission was to reclaim and amplify Native voices, and to dispel the distorted views of colonist and Native histories perpetuated in the education system.

In 1975, she was recognized by the office of the California Governor’s office as “One of California’s well-known native American artists.”

Leatrice exhibited extensively throughout the United States. In October, her work will be part of a large group show at the Crocker Museum in Sacramento, an expansion of the SFSU exhibit When I Remember I See Red.