Were these drawings encouraged for commercial purposes rather than documentary?
I believe it was a bit of both. The use of paper as opposed to hide marked a transition in medium but the practice of drawing/painting scenes of this type was common before the reservation era.
After decreased economic opportunities as a result of forced relocation and other U.S. governmental restrictions in the 19th century, the practice provided a source of income but that is not to say that the practice was driven by commercial purposes alone.
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Ledger art is a plains style created around the end of the 19th century. Drawn mostly on ruled pages from account books, these works are a continuation of traditional drawings originally painted on buffalo skin garments and tipi covers.
This drawing depicts one warrior scalping a fallen warrior who has dropped his bow and arrows.
Do several of these form a connecting narrative of, say, a large battle?
It is possible that bound ledger books filled with drawings once contained various drawings that conveyed scenes from a larger, overarching narrative, but the drawings were in high demand among white settlers and were often sold individually.
Bound ledger books were also often dismantled by art dealers seeking to gain economic profits.