I first heard about Albert Racine when I was wandering around Ebay looking for John Clarke Carvings. I found this Racine carved buffalo for sale and ended up purchasing it. It was carved in 1969, probably at his studio and gallery in St Mary. *click on the pictures to see larger ones*
Albert Racine was a Blackfeet Indian born in Browning, Montana on April 19th, 1908 and died in 1984. He attended the Haskell Institute in Lawrence, Kansas between 1921 - 1922 and graduated from Browning High School in 1928.
As an artist he studied under some of the greatest artist of the era: Winold Reiss (at the St Mary Summer Art School) Edward Everett Hale Jr, Adrian Voisin, Karl Hurtig Sr, and John L. Clarke.
Between 1942 - 1945 he fought in the European and African theaters. After his discharge from the service he worked as a sign painter at the U.S. Navy at Indian Island, WA and a sign painter for a company in Great Falls, MT. Eventually he returned to the Glacier Park area to be an artist - focusing on wood carvings. For the Browning Methodist Church he carved an altar and pulpit displaying the Lord's Supper and various scenes of Christ's life. He repaired a large relief originally carved by John Clarke. He carved a large relief depicting the history of the Blackfeet People that now hangs at the Plains Indian Museum in Browning. He carved specially designed gavels for Presidents Kennedy and Johnson. As his reputation grew, his art was purchased by collectors in the U.S. Canada, Africa, Europe, and Great Britain.
In 1967, he opened a studio and gallery in St Mary - after a few years, he sold it and moved to Choteau, MT.
In 1975, his work was highlighted at the Northern Plains Museum in Browning and he is in The Biographical Directory of Native American Painters by Patrick D. Lester.
In August of 1938, The Mineral Independent reported that Albert Racine was nominated as a candidate for the Indian Achievement Award which was to be presented by the Indian Council of Chicago.
This last summer I visted the Methodist Church in Browning, MT. Albert Racine carved some relief carvings for the church and they were gracious enough to allow me to take some pictures. In the early 30's, Albert was asked by the new minister of the Methodist Church to carve an alter piece to "spruce up the church" Albert figured that it was one of those thing you agree to without ever expecting to have to do it, so he said "yes". A few days later, Running Weasel was surprised when the Methodist Minister appeared with a slab of White Pine. Since Albert had never carved before, he had to make his own tools out of old files or borrow them from friends. He gave his word, and he did what needed to do to keep his word. Eventually, he finished the 3'x5' carving of the Lords Supper and carved several other pieces for the church. If you ever make it to Browning, Montana try to visit the Methodist church and see these incredible carvings. Out of courtesy, please call first to make arrangements to see the carving of Running Weasel. The Church's phone number is 406-338-7300. Their mission website is Browning Methodist Church>
In 1983, Albert and his wife, Inez, were living on the Oregon Coast. Albert was feeling ill and decided to return to his original home near Browning, MT. He died a few days later (he suffered a stroke while visiting the outhouse). Albert was taken to the hospital in Browning and airlifted to a hospital in Kalispell, MT.; Running Weasel died while being airlifted. His funeral was at the Methodist Church - in fact his box of ashes rested on the alter he carved almost 50 years earlier. His ashes were spread along Cut Bank Ridge on the Blackfeet Reservation.
I was lucky enough to meet Diana Chambers, Albert Racine's step daughter - Diana was the daughter of Inez Racine. She provided me with some great information along with the following pictures. She also lent me a copy of Dale Burk's 1969 book titled NEW INTERPRETATIONS. Dale's book includes some great profiles of western artists, including Albert Racine. Diana provided me with the following pictures.
The first picture is of John Clarke, Albert Racine, and Inez Racine - 1969. The second picture is of the Gallery Albert and Inez ran in St Mary. The cabin was built in 1900 by Jim Muroe and used as a hunting lodge by James Willard Schultz, George Bird Grinnel, and James J. Hill. Running Weasel started out painting and drawing. The next two pictures are a couple of examples of his sketches.
Running Weasel mainly did relief carvings, many depicting Blackfeet stories told to Albert by his Grandmother. The ship carving was a gift to Diana. Those of you in Oregon may recognize the light house.
This picture was sent to me by Gail. Her uncle served with Albert Racine in the Italian theater during WWII.
I want to thank The Montana Historical Society, Diana Chambers, Dale Burk, and the Browning Methodist Church for most of this information. If you have any information or pictures of Albert Racine that I could add to this web page, I would appreciate anything anyone could send.
Thanks for your help.
I have started repairing carvings made by Albert Racine and John L. Clarke. click here to see a repaired Racine Buffalo
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