Norval Morrisseau was born in 1931 in northern Ontario, near Thunderbay. His childhood was spent in isolation, he was raised by his grandfather who introduced him to Ojibwa shamanism and told him the stories and legends passed down amongst the Ojibwa people. These oral traditions were the inspiration for his work, he began producing images to illustrate them.
At the age of six he was sent to a residential school, he spent two years there.
In the 1960's Morrisseau was exposed to the Toronto Art scene with the help of art dealer Jack Polluck. He also completed a mural commission in The Indians of Canada Pavilion for Expo 67.
Morriseau has received an honorary degree from the Royal Academy of Arts and is a member of The Order Of Canada.
In 1972, he was caught in a fire, where apparently he had visions of Jesus. He began incorporating Christian themes in his work after this incident.
In 1989 Morriseau was the only Canadian Painter to be invited to participate in the "Magicians Of The Earth" exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris, France. He has had numerous solo shows across Canada and the United States.
His work was exhibited at The National Gallery of Canada in 2005-06, he was the first Native American artist to have a solo exhibit in a major institution.
He suffered from Parkinson's disease later in life, he died in 2007.
There have been several controversies and concerns regarding works that claim to be the works of Morrisseau.