Folkstreams | The Monument of Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder

The Monument of Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder (1983)

At age 71, Chief Thunder lives in the Nevada desert with his young wife and small children in The Monument, a concrete and stone house he built and decorated with powerful forms and arches. His overwhelming sculptures, "spirits of the living," portray Indian heroes, family, and friends. He created the monument when a voice spoke in a dream, "You are the Big Eagle and the Big Eagle shall return to his nest." His artistry is the testament of a great American folk artist.The film captures the tragedy of his life, his painful isolation, the beauty of his work, and his creative process. Its highlight is a remarkable sequence in which Chief Thunder sculpts a complete piece on camera. Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder was honored as "The Artist of the Year" by the state of Nevada in 1983.

The Monument of Chief Rolling Mountain Thunder is part of the "Visions of Paradise" series on contemporary folk artists directed and produced by Irving Saraf and Allie Light. The other four films in the series are: Possum Trot: The Art of Calvin Black, Hundred and Two Mature: The Art of Harry Lieberman, Grandma's Bottle Village: The Art of Tressa Prisbrey, and Angel That Stands By Me: TMinnie Evans' Paintings. You can find information about them at They are video streaming on


For licensing, film rights and permissions, contact Allie Light, Irving Saraf, the distributor Light-Saraf Films, or Folkstreams.

Film Details

  • Film by: Allie Light, Irving Saraf
  • Produced by: Allie Light and Irving Saraf
  • Cinematographer: Philip Greene, Irving Saraf, Robert Shoup, John Winet
  • Sound: Sound Recordists: Ann Evans, Sara Chin. Sound Mix: Mark Berger
  • Editor: Allie Light and Irving Saraf
  • Other Credits: Asst. Camera: Robert Shoup. Production Assistants: Margaret Crane, Deborah Henderson, Ahtrum Thunder. Music: Tucki Bailey. Associate Producer: Lynn O'Donnell. Consultant: Julia Weissman.
  • Funding: Funded in part by a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, Washington D.C. Additional funding: The L.J. Skaggs and Mary C. Skaggs Foundation.
  • Original Format: Film: 16mm
  • © Copyright 1983 Allie Light and Irving Saraf
  • 28mins, Color
  • Categories:
    FamilyArts, Visionary and Outsider