Jim Wilson was born in the state of Oklahoma, of Choctaw and Irish descent, in the month of August 1946. His childhood years were mostly spent in the small towns of west Texas and southern Oklahoma. After graduating from high school in Richardson, Texas, he moved to Lame Deer, Montana to work with the Northern Cheyenne Tribal council in an endeavour designed to provide employment to the Cheyenne people. This was at the behest of his grandmother who was very active in Native American issues. During this time he had a great number of friendships and experiences with tribal elders and the medicine men of this area. This would, in later years, prove to be an invaluable source of inspiration for his contemporary Native American music. Following these five or six years, Wilson was married and had a son, and attended college in Billings, Montana and later post-graduate study at the University of Montana in Missoula.

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