Born in Browning, Montana, he grew up on the family ranch in Birch Creek but left as a teenager to study art. He was in the first class of artists graduating from the Institute for Native American Art in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Kuka then briefly served in the military, and by 1978 he devoted all his time to his artistic endeavours. He became pivotal in the growing Native American Art movement feeling a responsibility to reach a wide audience with his work.
He painted in oil, then pastel, created sculpture and even jewelry. He had a very strong sense of color and design and his wife said: "His emphasis was on color and textures. He painted to produce a feeling. He didn't care for replicating reality, he
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