Indian Ledger Art-Resources and Information

Indian Ledger Art

Pictographic art form

Newest entry-
The Walter Bone Shirt Ledger, from Archives & Special Collections Maureen and Mike Mansfield Library The University of Montana - Missoula
View images from the collection
Ledger art history at

"Plains Indian Drawings" by Janet Catherine Berlo

Fort Marion Artists
National Museum of Natural History Smithsonian Institution

Plain's Indian Ledger Art Digital Art Project
Plains Indian Ledger Art Digital Publishing Project Overview

Ledger Book of Making Medicine
Fort Marion Prisoner, Massachusetts Historical Society

Amos Bad Heart Bull, A Biography

Ledger Art in the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers

Ledger Drawings, Then and Now
By Suzanne Deats

Library/Archives Division of the Kansas State Historical Society

Influence of Ledger Art in the Modern Era

Kiowa Drawings in the Smithsonian
"Kiowa painters were prominent in the development of contemporary Indian painting, and led the early "Oklahoma school" of work. Most famous among them were the Kiowa Five -- Spencer Asah, James Auchiah, Jack Hokeah, Stephen Mopope, Monroe Tsatoke and, briefly, Lois Smokey, all of whom studied at the University of Oklahoma in the late 1920s"

The Impact of Ledger Drawing on Native American Art
Picturing Change- Exhibition at the Hood Museum

The Kiowa Five
Written by N. W. Hager, Melton Art Reference Library

The Kiowa Five
Jacobson House Native Arts Center

Jacobson House Native Art Gallery
Jacobson House Native Arts Center

"The Szwedzicki Portfolios: Native American Fine Art and American Visual Culture, 1917-1952" by Janet Catherine Berlo (PDF format)

C. Szwedzicki: The North American Indian Works

Ledger art is traditionally a male American Indian pictographic art form, and historically has been characterized as such by researchers. Chronologically its stylistic development belongs to the Proto-Modern era of the Native American Fine Arts Movement and was a major influence, through trade routes and the patronage of white art collectors, on Modern Indian Art as its elements diffused to the schools of New Mexico, Oklahoma, and the Northwest Coast. Its more explicit expression, however, yielded to the styles that developed in these schools and culminated in the early 1960's during a period of the Movement referred to as the First Generation Modernists. Only recently have the researchers of Ledger art recognized Virginia Stroud as the Native American Woman artist who, as a Second Generation Modernist and a member of the so-called "New Indian Art Movement", revitalized a traditionally male form of art expression with her pictographic images in the late 1960's to the early 1980's. Influence on Stroud's stylistic achievements can be attributed to her Kiowa upbringing centered in Oklahoma, which is the major geographic center of the Southern Plains school, and her attendance at Bacone under the direction and influence of Dr. Richard West.

Virginia Stroud, Biographical Information
Virginia Stroud, Pictographic Examples

George Flett
George Flett Art Since 2007, (Blog)
George Flett, Images

Linda Haukaas, Sicanju (Rosebud Sioux)

Donald F. Montileaux, Biography
Donald F. Montileaux, Images

Books on Indian Ledger Art

Stylistic Development and Dorothy Dunn

Full Article- Dorothy Dunn and "Primitive" Art

The artist's of tribes of the Great Plains left their paper trail for centuries on rocks, cave walls, and buffalo robes and other animal skins. After contact with the white man the Native American artists began to use paper from the ledger books that traders used for record keeping, thus the term "ledger art". The drawings were characteristic of the style that had persisted for centuries and culminated with the end of the proto-modern era of the Native American art movement.

It was at the end of this era and the beginning of the Modernistic era of the movement that Dorothy Dunn was teaching at the Santa Fe school. During her tenure she encouraged her students to continue the traditions of their predecessors in the "flat", or "primitive" art style. Here one can cite Dunn's unique concept of "primitive", and even more so her concept of "primitive art".

Anthropologists use the term "primitive" as a general category to describe cultures which had not achieved a certain standard (define modernity). For Dunn, a primitive was not a certain type of culture, but described individuals and objects indigenous to any, every, culture. The primitive subject was that gifted individual, or "seer" whom was able to discern the primitive objects relevant to their culture. These objects were also "primitives", and represented the signs, icons, or symbols of a culture. Thus, for Dunn, "primitive art" was the one to one relationship between the seer and the perceived set of primitive objects of their culture. Primitive was not a certain type of culture, but a certain set of variables occurring in every culture, and primitive art was an event that portrayed the values, or what was of importance in that culture. Thus, Dunn encouraged her students to carry on the tradition into the Modernist era.

See also: Dorothy Dunn's Influences

Native American Art

Books on Indian Ledger Art

Native American Music