I was thinking of the tradition of ledger art, but I was also thinking of the other, original meaning of ledger - a place for keeping track of sums...It is sort of a bittersweet notion - the whole idea of ledgers and accounting for what has been taken from Indians and what we were given in exchange. - Arthur Amiotte, 1995
Beginning in the late 19th Century, as the Plains Indians were forced to make the transition from the freedom of the open prairie to the captivity of reservation life, this move also changed the way they recorded their art and history.
As the Native people lost access to what was once a common material - the leather animal hide - they began using the pages of old ledger accounting books (formerly used by Indian Agents, traders and military officers) to record their visual history.
This abrupt switch to using paper is reflective 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.