OKLAHOMA CITY – An outline of a Native American warrior comes to life with layers of orange, black, yellow and red paint on a 36”x 48” canvas. With each brush stroke the warrior’s eyes show determination, and the only tangible weapon he carries is a basketball.

“It represents Oklahoma Natives,” Bunky Echo-Hawk said. “It’s kind of an interpretation of the design I made of the t-shirt for Nike N7.”

Echo-Hawk, Pawnee and Yakama, created a live art painting Aug. 20 at the Nike Factory Store in Oklahoma City. The appearance was to help launch the new Nike N7 shoes and t-shirts that Echo-Hawk designed. The shirts reveal a Native American warrior holding a basketball; the warrior spirit, halted in a strike pose.

“It’s basically a series of paintings that celebrate Native American basketball,” Echo-Hawk said. “The painting that I created, that they based the shirts and the shoes off of, is called ‘triple threat’ … it’s a cool pose for Native people because it shows you have options, you can go places, you basically have control over your own destiny.”

Echo-Hawk said the series celebrates the student athletes in Indian country who are leading healthy lifestyles, accomplishing positive things and know they are students first and then athletes.

While at the Oklahoma City N7 launch, Echo-Hawk said he was inspired by the audience and wanted to paint a warrior that represented the Oklahoma Indian population.

He also recognized and appreciated the different generations who attended.

“It was amazing. There was a really great turn-out … we had a lot of family, tribal members and tribal leaders. It was really cool. I was really pleased with the way it turned out.”

The mission for Nike’s N7 collection is to inspire and assist Native American and Aboriginal people in North America to participate in sports because, “involvement in sports and physical activity leads to greater self-confidence, enabling youth to be a force for positive change in their communities. When one generation realizes its potential, future generations are much stronger for it.”

Sam McCracken, Nike N7 general manager, said he’s excited about the partnership with Echo-Hawk and feels they’ve created something unique.

“The intent of the collection is to raise awareness beyond Native American and Aboriginal communities for the N7 Program and the N7 Fund. This is the first time Nike has collaborated with an artist for the Nike N7 collection and it is the fourth release of product for the Nike N7 collection since it launched in November 2009,” a Nike N7 release stated.

Echo-Hawk said Nike N7 executives found him online through his Web site, Facebook page and My Space site.

In 2009 he was invited to the Nike world headquarters in Beaverton, Ore. and met some of Nike’s top designers.

They asked him to paint a live art piece and after seeing everything Nike was trying to do with the Nike N7 line, Echo-Hawk was impressed.

He said the Nike leadership is amazing and it’s exciting to have a brand specifically for Native American people.

He’s also appreciative of what Nike is pouring back into Indian country through athletic and health programs.

“It’s exciting to me to be a part of all that,” Echo-Hawk said, then he reflected on when Nike first contacted him. “Honestly, I felt like a rock star … it kind of felt a little bit surreal … I just couldn’t believe it.”

Echo-Hawk said for now his collaborative efforts with Nike N7 are focused on basketball because “it seems to be the No. 1 sport in Indian Country,” but he would also like to collaborate on Native skateboarding shoes and shirts.

“Eventually I think the whole idea of the Nike N7 is that we’ll be able to grow and expand and cover all aspects of Indian sports,” Echo-Hawk said. “I think that’s what the major goal is … maybe in the future we’ll be able to expand and do a lot of other sports.”

Prior to the Nike N7 partnership, Echo-Hawk did design skateboards for Native Skates.

He said he knew when he was 3- or 4-years-old that he wanted to be an artist.

Eventually, he earned his formal art education at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, N.M. and studied several genres of commercial art.

He is also involved in his traditional singing and dancing. He has two daughters, Alexie, 5, and Feather, 1.  His parents are Walter and Pauline Echo-Hawk.

Echo-Hawk said most of the youth who meet him want to know where he went to school and how he became connected with Nike.

He said it’s cool to see the positive impact the alliance is having on the youth.

“We all have a voice,” Echo-Hawk said. “As Native people it’s our obligation to use that voice, to be heard, to be seen … Find your passion and … be heard and use your voice.”

To find out more about Echo-Hawk his Web site at www.bunkyechohawk.com or his Facebook page at www.facebook.com/bunky.echohawk. More information about Nike N7 can be found at http://niken7.com/.