Ledger Book Drawing
Arts of the Americas
On View: American Art Galleries, 5th Floor, Nations Divided, 1860–1910
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.
Ink, crayon, paper
Gift of The Roebling Society
The ledger drawing scene shows a Native man on a charging horse, clubbing a soldier with a tomahawk weapon. The Native (possibly Cheyenne) has on decorated leggings; his hair wrapped with an elaborate headpiece with a whole bird on top of his head and a flowing trailer alongside of it . The soldier, caught between the legs of the horse, wears a blue army uniform and brandishes a pistol.There is the outline of a wagon in the lower left.
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 for such drawings .
Possibly Cheyenne. Ledger Book Drawing, ca. 1890. Ink, crayon, paper, 6 7/8 x 13 3/8in. (17.5 x 34cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of The Roebling Society, 1992.27.1 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1992.27.1_SL1.jpg)
overall, 1992.27.1_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.