Charles M. Russell was born in St. Louis, Missouri and shortly after his sixteenth birthday, he left for the Judith Basin of Montana to pursue his lifelong dream of being a cowboy. Russell worked as a cowboy and wrangler for eleven years, during which time he actively documented his experiences through sketches, paintings, and modelled figures. Russell is known for having a great respect for the American Indians and especially the Plains peoples. Death Song of Lone Wolf portrays inter-tribal conflict, an unusual topic for Russell to portray, as he most often painted buffalo hunts or scenes of everyday life. The man at the left of the painting, running alongside a horse, is likely of the Crow or Assiniboine tribes. The shield in the forefront with a thunderbird above a four-pointed form has been identified and belonged to a man called Swift Dog (1834-1925).