Ledger Drawing

A Profound sense of history has long compelled Indian peoples of the Great Plains to chronicle their lives pictorially.  Images inscribed on rock walls, narrative scenes on buffalo robes and tipis were personal history made public.
In the later half of the nineteenth century Plains men adopted a new, smaller-scale medium for their pictorial histories:  They began to draw on paper, using pens, pencils and watercolors.  Explorers and traders, military men and Indian agents provided these new mediums.
Indian artists appropriated the large, bound ledger book – a pedestrian item used for inventory by traders and military officers – as a new surface upon which to draw. While recording personal and tribal history, these drawings provided an artistic record of the profound changes occurring in indigenous life in the nineteenth century.
The drawings executed by Cathy Smith recreate this Plains artistic style using original antique ledger books.