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Allen Sapp (1929-)


Allen Sapp had been a noted artist for many years before he illustrated his first children's book, The Song Within My Heart, in 2002. A member of the Cree nation and a direct descendant of Chief Red Pheasant, Sapp often paints events that he remembers from his childhood on the Red Pheasant reservation, in Saskatchewan, Canada. In The Song Within My Heart, these paintings are paired with a verse narrative by David Bouchard. Sapp was raised by his grandmother, or Nokum in Cree, after his mother died of tuberculosis. For The Song Within My Heart, Bouchard wrote the poetry based on Sapp's stories of his life with his grandmother. Preparations for a pow-wow provide a focus for the text, and the rhythms of the pow-wow, refrains of "BOOM boom boom boom" and "HI hey hey hey," run along the bottom of the pages. A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Sapp's "richly texture[d]" illustrations of the pow-wow, writing, "A bright red shirt, Nokum's white braids, or the vivid, blue sky punctuate the mostly earthy hues for a striking contrast." Resource Links contributor Judy Cottrell thought that the book would be useful for teaching students about Native American culture, commenting, "The descriptions of childhood experiences will appeal to children of all ages."

Biographical and Critical Sources


Bouchard, David, The Song Within My Heart, illustrated by Allen Sapp, Raincoast (Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada), 2002.

Boyer, Bob, and Alfred Young Man, Kiskayetum: Allen Sapp, A Retrospective, MacKenzie Art Gallery (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada), 1994.

Highwater, Jamake, The Sweetgrass Lives On: Fifty Contemporary North American Indian Artists, Lippincott & Crowell (New York, NY), 1980.

Kinsella, W. P., Two Spirits Soar: The Art of Allen Sapp, the Inspiration of Allan Gonor, Stoddart (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1990.

MacEwen, J. W. Grant, Portraits from the Plains, McGraw Hill (New York, NY), 1971.

St. James Guide to Native North American Artists, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.


Canadian Geographic, August-September, 1990, Max MacDonald, "Chronicler of the Cree: Allen Sapp Paints the Story of His People."

First Perspective, February, 1995, Shiela Stevens, "Retrospective Features Work of Talented Aboriginal Artist."

NeWest Review, June-July, 1997, review of I Heard the Drums, p. 28.

Publishers Weekly, April 7, 2003, review of The Song Within My Heart, p. 66.

Resource Links, February, 2003, Judy Cottrell, review of The Song Within My Heart, pp. 2-3.

Wind Speaker, March, 1997, review of I Heard the Drums, p. 11; April, 1999, Joan Black, "Grandmother Believed in Boy's Artistic Talent," p. 1.


Allen Sapp Gallery, http://www.allensapp.com/ (January 21, 2004).*

Additional topics

Brief BiographiesBiographies: Paul Anthony Samuelson (1915– ) Biography to Bessie Smith (1895–1937) BiographyAllen Sapp (1929-) Biography - Career, Sidelights - Personal, Addresses, Honors Awards, Writings