Charles was born as one of 11 children on a farm outside of Pawnee Oklahoma. His father was tribal leader Henry Chapman and his mother Lonie Tatum Chapman. He was a member of the Kitkehahki Band of the Pawnee Nation, and born the ninth out of 11 children.
Like other Indian children at the time, at 5 years old he was sent off to the Pawnee Indian School. He hated it. He told Patti Weaver at Tulsa World, “The first year I ran away seven times, five miles to home.”
Both his parents died when he was 10, and he found comfort and distraction in drawing. Once graduated from high school, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. After serving in Vietnam — which he would never discuss — he returned to Pawnee. Only then did he pick up oils and start painting.
The following comes from his official obituary: “Charles was known for his artistic depictions of Pawnee tribal culture and life through extensive research into his Pawnee heritage. He made sure he produced historically accurate art. His love of history is rooted in the work his father did to help translate Pawnee lifestyles and legends into text for two noted Indian researchers. Those stories would have been lost without their work. He was commissioned to design a book cover for a reprint of “The Lost Universe: Pawnee Life and Culture”, in which his father served as translator and cultural consultant. His paintings and prints are now in collections and galleries worldwide. During the past three decades, his work has received top honors at numerous juried art shows across the nation and exhibited at the White House and the Oklahoma State Capital.”