Ledger Book Drawing
Arts of the Americas
Depicting the Indian Wars
As gold and land lured non-Native settlers westward, Native Americans fought for their homelands in fierce battles with the U.S. Army, as depicted here. Government pogroms attempted to wipe out Native peoples by deliberately spreading disease and by killing off the life-sustaining buffalo and native sheep. Native warriors, who had traditionally depicted their battles on hide shirts and tipi liners in the 1800s, co-opted ledger books from government agents to draw their war experiences. General Custer’s 1876 defeat at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana and other Native victories were overshadowed by relentless U.S. Army massacres in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including the famous one at Wounded Knee, South Dakota, in 1890. The wars continued until all Native peoples were driven onto reservations.
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Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection
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Possibly Cheyenne (Native American). Ledger Book Drawing, ca. 1890. Ink, crayon,paper, 8 1/2 x 14 in. (21.6 x 35.6 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Alastair B. Martin, the Guennol Collection, 1992.27.4 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.27.4_SL1.jpg)
overall, 1992.27.4_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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Two warriors are battling in this ledger drawing: the left side warrior carries a gun and wears long leggings, a vest and a cap with feathers. The rider on the right wears a short feathered headdress, long shirt, short leggings and tall moccasins. He has thrust a long lance towards his opponent. Even the horses butt heads during this battle.
These drawings are done by tearing out paper from ledger books that were used by army and reservation post managers as a substitute for using hides- the traditional medium fro such drawings.
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