“Ledger art came about because of the government hunters who were hired to eliminate the buffalo from the plains. The Buffalo Nations who were dependent on the buffalo for sustenance were forced to find a new way to preserve their history. The buffalo people, from 1850 to 1910, developed a new form of art which cast aside by the storekeepers and soldiers, they were able to maintain their history through detailed drawings of stories told and retold through the generations.”
Donald F. Montileaux (Oglala Lakota) is a master ledger artist, and following in the footsteps of his forefathers he has rekindled ledger art with a collection of striking images that capture the unique Lakota way of life. Montileaux interned under noted artist Oscar Howe at the University of South Dakota, Vermillion in 1964 and 1965. He also credits his personal friend and mentor, the late Herman Red Elk, as his primary artistic muse.
With the guidance of these men, and his own unquenchable drive, he has taken his art on a dramatic journey. His original painting, Looking Beyond Ones Self, was a part of the payload on the space shuttle Endeavour in 1995.
In 2014, in addition to being inducted into the South Dakota Hall of Fame for his artistic excellence, Montileaux authored and illustrated “Tasunka,” a book with the distinction of being penned in English as well as his own native Lakota language. His artwork spans the globe with many artistic awards and commissions to date; and his work is represented in numerous private and public collections.
With his willingness to help young and old alike in their artistic journey, Don continues to help mentor emerging artists through workshops and classroom instruction.