National | Politics

Native Sun News: Political cartoonist takes bow from paper

The following story was written and reported by Jesse Abernathy, Native Sun News Editor. All content © Native Sun News.

Del Iron Cloud took the People’s Choice Award at the art show held during the Stock Show in February here in Rapid City. He is pictured here with the winning work of art. Iron Cloud is one of the most gifted artists in the country, and his array of artwork can be seen far and wide in America. He is also the much-acclaimed cartoonist for Native Sun News, the largest Indian newspaper in South Dakota. File Photo.

RAPID CITY, SOUTH DAKOTA – After almost three years as Native Sun News’ keen-eyed political cartoonist, Del Iron Cloud has made the tough choice to retire.

Iron Cloud, who started with NSN in September of 2009, five months after longtime Oglala Lakota journalist and publisher Tim Giago successfully founded the paper on the solidity of his experience, says he came to the decision only after several months of soul-searching.

“It has been a difficult decision,” said Iron Cloud, “but I feel the need to devote more time to my paintings and travel.”

His retirement could very well be described as the end of an era for NSN and its readers, many of whom have become steadfast followers of his weekly work.

A member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, Iron Cloud said he really wrestled with the idea of ending his high-profile tenure at NSN, vacillating between submitting his notice and not submitting his notice.

“I really hated to go myself, you know,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about (retiring), (and) sometimes I say ‘Well, maybe I can submit my letter today – no, I’ll hold off on it another month, maybe.’”

In the end, Iron Cloud’s desire to pursue other life interests along with his wife Frieda won over.

“I think I been through the grinder (at NSN),” he said with a chuckle. “No, seriously, I really enjoyed it. I emailed Tim and thanked him for the opportunity to draw my guts out as an editorial cartoonist – to put a politician’s hat on and draw.”

In recalling his initial employment interview with Giago in 2009, Iron Cloud said he had really not done any political drawings before the encounter.

“I remember I came in, and I brought a bunch of my prints to show Tim (and) some of my cartoons I had done for the Air Force. I had my prints all over the floor, and I sold prints to all of the employees there” at NSN’s original location on Cambell Street.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Iron Cloud’s larger-than-life artwork can be seen at several reservation casinos throughout South Dakota, most notably Standing Rock and Crow Creek. He has painted murals depicting scenes of traditional Lakota life at such venues for the past 20 years.

“Doing political cartoons, one really has to dig deep to come up with something appropriate, and also do a lot of research – get on a computer and research the background of some people,” he said in further reflecting on his nearly three-year career with NSN. “But it was fun.”

Iron Cloud, who won’t officially be done for at least two more weeks, will leave behind a powerful legacy in Native American journalism difficult to match.

“I certainly appreciate the opportunity to be a part of a growing and successful paper. It was a wonderful trip, and I certainly enjoyed it.”

(Contact Jesse Abernathy at

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