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 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 hides - 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 to create Native American ledger art reflects 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.
Shop our collection of Native American ledger art reflecting the incredible ingenuity and extraordinary ability of the Indian people of the Great Plains. These pieces are incredibly intricate and often depict scenes from tribal life or nature. They are a true testament to the skill and artistry of the Native American people.