A tribal member of the Cherokee Nation, Jesse Hummingbird spent his childhood mostly in the deep South with frequent trips back to Oklahoma. He attended high school in Nashville and went on to study art at Watkins Institute, Middle Tennessee State University, and the University of Tennessee. As an adult he earned a graphic arts certificate at Nashville Tech and took classes at the American Academy of Art in Chicago. He now often takes classes at Cochise Community College.
Hummingbird established himself as a successful printer, graphic artist, and commercial illustrator with publishing companies in Chicago and Dallas before becoming a full-time artist in 1983. He has won several awards at regional and national American Indian shows and museums, including the Inter-Tribal Ceremonial, Heard Museum, and Santa Fe Indian Market. In 2017, Hummingbird was selected by the Cherokee Nation as a Cherokee National Living Treasure.