Lakota Artist Evans Flammond Sr: Ledger Art

The work of Lakota Indian artist Evans Flammond Sr. is a result of his careful exploration into the past, mixed with his powerful need to create. Driven by his vow to keep the Native culture alive, his pieces echo the history of his forefathers and explode with his bold style and technique.

This Native American artist works in a range of mediums, from painting and sculpture to beadwork and drawing. Each piece is created with thoughtful patience, authenticity and pride as he integrates ancestral legend, symbolism, and history into his contemporary aesthetic for color and expression.

Recent Work: Ledger Art
His most recent work, a collection of ledger drawings, portrays crucial moments in Indian life during the 19th century and celebrates the beauty of Plains Indian tradition and dress.

Ledger Drawings: A quick history
Beginning in the late 19th Century, as the Plains Indians were forced to make the transition between the freedom of the open prairie and the captivity of reservation life, they lost the ability to hunt and gather. This eliminated the most common available material for producing and recording art and history…the leather animal hide.

As a result, they began using the pages of old ledger accounting books formerly used for inventory by Indian Agents, traders and military officers to record their visual history. Here's how they acquired them:

Reservation agents and army post agents (then as today) were meticulous record keepers - everything from food and clothing allowances to the comings and goings of the Native people was all documented in that agent’s ledger book. Once these books were full and no longer usable, they were discarded. The people, looking for anything to record their history and artwork on, came across these used ledger books in replacement of the hides.

Importance of Ledger Art
This abrupt switch to using paper is a direct reflection of the drastic changes taking place in Plains Indian life during the late 1800s…but it also shows their incredible ingenuity and extraordinary ability to adopt new materials and create.

Two important facts about the original ledgers and this type of artwork exist:

  1. These are truly some of the only remaining records of the people who lived in the area at that time (Although many records were not accurate due to the lack of interpreters at that time, they still are a fantastic look back into that era).
  2. The originals were also often coincided with the time period that the ledgers were used and discarded.

Historical drawings inspire contemporary art
Today, with very good ledgers, contemporary artists have the opportunity to utilize those ledgers, along with known history, to create some very important documentation of historic events.

Evans has done this very effectively with both his “1876 Custer Battlefield” and the “Sitting Bull & Buffalo Bill's European Wild West Tour” pieces. He has taken original ledger paper - the Sitting bull piece dated 1889 and the Custer Battle piece dated 1876 – and created an impressive blend of history, old materials, and new artwork.

His resulting compositions resonate with the power of these significant events and cultural traditions that either affected or where a very important part of, Plains Indian life.