Born in Oklahoma, Tommy (T.C.) Cannon spent his early life near the Zoltone springs in Southern Oklahoma. He displayed a talent for drawing at an early age, winning numerous awards for his artwork around the Gracemount and Anardako areas. After high school, Cannon attended the Institute of American Indian Arts. He combined old traditional styles with "new world" style, which became his style of contemporary art. Cannon was one of the most important Native American artists of the 20th century.