Northwest Native Designs

The Gallery » Artists


Item ID: 9297

Ernie Apodaca is a member of the Blackfeet Nation of Montana. His business was founded on his personal vision is to celebrate the stories and diverse art of the American Indian Nations. Over the years, his body of work has expanded to include scenic paintings and wildlife. The result is contemporary, stylized functional art with strong ties to both American Indian Culture and Western Lore.

One of Ernie’s special talents is working closely with the client, to incorporate their vision along with his. His guidance and sensitivity creates a special experience. As he listens to the wants and needs of the client, he visually guides them and translates their wishes into a very personal and beautiful piece of contemporary functional art.

With over 35 years of experience, not only does Ernie create the artistic vision, but he also incorporates the practical reality of function, form and comfort. In this process, he takes into consideration the practical use and placement of the piece. The height, length, width and depth is created around the personal lifestyle and desires of the client.

Ernie Apodaca also collaborates with a pool of master wood carvers, painters, and toolers who add their special talents to the design and creation of the piece. He hand builds each frame with kiln-dried alder wood, and uses only the finest, high-quality leather and hides, foam and fabric to complete a piece. Each piece is a work of art, which can be adorned with hand tooling reminiscent of fine western saddles, fringe inspired by cowboy and Indian clothing, hand-carved wood, turquoise and fossil inlaid wood, painted northwest coastal art designs and many other designs, which all tell a story. People who have an appreciation for the American Indian culture and a western lifestyle will truly enjoy his work.


2003 Best Artist in leather: Western Design Conference.

2000 Exhibitor’s Choice: Montana Spirit of the Arts, Rocky Mountain Design Expo.

2000 People’s Choice: Montana Spirit of the Arts, Rocky Mountain Design Expo.

1998 Best of Show: U.S. National Festival of the West.

1996 Award of Excellence U.S. Department of Commerce - Minority Start Up Company of the Year in recognition of outstanding contributions in the Minority Community, signed by President Bill Clinton.