Taught the history and ceremonial traditions of the Ojibwe, Morrisseau (Copper Thunderbird) began drawing the legends of his people at a very young age. In later years, while working in mining, he continued to develop his art. Isolated from major urban centres, he became a full-time artist in the early 1960s, creating The Woodland School, his unique pictographic style – a style that has influenced many First Nations artists including Daphne Odjig, Carl Ray, Blake Debassige, and Saul Williams.
By 1962, Morrisseau’s vibrant, richly colourful paintings had attracted the attention of Toronto gallery owner Jack Pollock who organized a one-man show of the artist’s work. The show gained critical praise.