Wednesday, March 6, 2019


I became interested in the genre known as Plains Indian ledger art after viewing the Black Horse ledger at the Newberry Library in Chicago, in the 1990s. Becca Gerkin has an excellen article about the palimpsests of this ledger. It was my introduction to this genre. Ross Frank defines it as:
A transitional form of Plains Indian artistry corresponding to the forced reduction of Plains tribes to government reservations, roughly between 1860 and 1900. Due to the destruction of the buffalo herds and other game animals of the Great Plains by Anglo-Americans during and after the Civil War, painting on buffalo hide gave way to works on paper, muslin, canvas… .”
This is a primary narrative genre that is a graphic, literary, and authentic Native expression. I researched ledger art for classroom use at Haskell Indian Nations University, where I taught 25 years, and I continue to find it an Indigenous literary form that informs the present as it sustains cultural identities of recent and distant histories. It challenges and complicates European traditions of literature. 
Here are some links from my presentation at Native American Literature Symposium.
“Black Horse Ledger: Digital Collection for the Classroom.” The Newberry Library.
“Fort Robinson Breakout” Chief Dull Knife College. YouTube. Aug. 30, 2012.
Keyser, James D. The Five Crows Ledger: Biographic Warrior Art of the Flathead Indians. University of Utah Press, 2000.
Lindsay, Stacy. “Behind the Scenes of Moonrise Kingdom.”
Low, Denise. “Composite Indigenous Genres: Cheyenne Ledger Art as Literature.” Studies in American Indian Literature, vol. 18.2 (Summer 2006).
Low, Denise and Ramon Powers. “Northern Cheyenne Warrior Ledger Art: Captivity Narratives of Northern Cheyenne Prisoners in 1879 Dodge City.” Kansas History, vol. 35.1 (Spring 2012).
“Plains Indian Ledger Art.”
National Museum of American History. “Keeping History: Plains Indian Ledger Drawing. Smithsonian Institution.
Rose, Christina “Native History: Descendant Tells Father’s Story of Fort Robinson Escape Survivor Tells” Indian Country Today. Jan. 22, 2014.
Round, Philip H. “Bullet in a Bible.” Repatriation Files: Blog.
“Touching Coup.” Skinner Auctions. .
Lorraine Jessepe, “Homecoming: Contemporary Artist Chris Pappan Redefines Plains Indian Ledger Art,” Indian Country Today, Oct. 30, 2011, Examples of Pappan’s works are online at the Spencer Museum of Art “Heartland Reverberations,” an exhibition presented by the Spencer Museum of Art .
“Southern Cheyenne Art: George Levi,”, accessed Oct. 3, 2018. .
Levi, George. Buffalo-Check-George Levi, “Original Ledger Art,” Plains Indian Ledger Art, accessed Oct. 4, 2018. The drawing is 31/8 inches by 83/8 inches. .
Levi, George. Cheyenne Buffalo Hunt-George Levi, “Original Ledger Art,” Plains Indian Ledger Art, accessed Oct. 4, 2018. The drawing is 13 inches by 81/2 inches.
Buffalo Spirit, Alaina, Tell Them We are Going Home, Facebook Aug. 26, 2018. Accessed Oct. 4, 2018. . See a reproduction in this volume. Her biographical information is on the Department of Interior’s Indian Arts and Crafts Board page, “Alaina Buffalo Spirit,, October 26 - December 5, 2008, accessed Oct. 4, 2018. .
 Buffalo Spirit, Alaina,”, Sept. 23, 2011, accessed Oct. 4, 2018. . The image is on Flickr, .

            More of her art is on view, including Fort Robinson Survivors, in “This Is Art After All,” a TEDxBillings, YouTube.Com, Feb. 10, 2015. Accessed Oct. 4, 2018. .