Ledger Drawings


Ledger books were used by Plains Indian warriors to illustrate important events in their lives. The ledger books were acquired from traders and soldiers stationed at the various forts and posts throughout the West. At first, the books were used as a sort of War magic. Later, they were used to record and recall events, deeds, histories and ceremonies.

In the 1870s, many Southern Plains warrior/artists were incarcerated at Ft. Marion in St. Augustine, Florida. During this time, their illustrated ledger books became "commercialized" and were produced in large quantities for non-Native consumption. What fascinates me most about ledger art is the powerful primitiveness of the illustrations, and the fact thatmany of the artists participated in the depicted events.

The five pages pictured here, come from the Amiden Ledger. Most of the Illustrations are attributed to the Lakota warrior/artist, Cehu Pa or “Jaw”, who was at the battle of Little Big Horn.