Don Oelze’s parents were from the United States, but their interests took them to different parts of the world. Oelze was born in New Zealand and at an early age, he had a fascination with America and especially with the lifestyle of cowboys and Indians. He started drawing Indians at a very early age, and by the time he was in school, he remembers getting into trouble for drawing Indians and cowboys in class instead of paying attention to his New Zealand history teacher. When he was eight years old, his parents moved back to the United States, where he continued to draw and paint throughout high school and university. Oelze completed his education at Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire.
In 1992, while living in Seattle, he met a Native American named Everett who produced native art and totems. While working with Everett, Oelze did his first big native painting. After trying many different subjects, he knew that painting Native Americans was what he loved to do most. Oelze’s next move was taking a job in Japan, and for ten years, he refined his skills and produced many paintings and drawings in his small Tokyo studio. In 2004, he and his wife, Utako, moved back to the U.S. and are presently living in Montana, studying the country and people that he loves to paint. Oelze has participated in shows both in the United States and abroad.