LAKOTA LEDGER DRAWINGS
from the Amidon Ledger Book
October 2 - November 2
These drawings were in a ledger book that turned up at a small courthouse lawn sale in Amidon, North Dakota in 1995. The book was found in a box of “used dictionaries” - there is no specific collection history. It is believed to be the work of three different Lakota artists, all working in the 1880’s and depicting events of the time.
In one drawing, there are two Lakota men on one horse, both wearing wool blankets, One of them is holding a tomahawk with a cut-out heart and a long beaded drop. Clearly they are not going to war and the tomahawk is a prestige object. Other drawings depict grass dancers and horse riders - there is even one of a rider hunting a buffalo which by the time of the drawing would have been an increasingly rare activity.
In many ways, these drawings acted as memory devices for the artists. The earliest Plains artists to work in this tradition recorded their war exploits but by the time these were made, the Indian Wars were long past and the concerns of the artist were more ritual or social in nature. Nevertheless, they remain art documents of a time and a way of life depicted by its participants in a drawing style specific to their culture.