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LEDGER ART

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(above) Duplicate cast of "O-kuh-ha-tah," Making Medicine, Cheyenne warrior (from the cited article below). Courtesy of President and Fellows of Harvard College, Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, PM# 78-1-10/13859. Created during his incarceration as a POW at Fort Marion (in St. Augustine, Florida)

(left) David Oakerhater Pendleton (standing on right), known as the artist "Making Medicine", pictured here after his release from prison, serving as a deacon in the US Anglican church. After his death he became an Anglican saint and has an observance included in the Lesser Feasts and Fasts.

 

"To encounter these remarkably detailed faces today is to encounter the people themselves, and how they appeared at the precise moment when their faces became someone else’s property."
‘Their Spirits Were Trapped in Those Masks’
Avi Steinberg, TOPIC. https://www.topic.com/their-spirits-were-trapped-in-those-masks

Many Native Americans imprisoned at Fort Marion (Florida) during the 19th Century generated "ledger art", so called when artists used lined ledger pages rather than more traditional Native American art materials (e.g. buffalo hide). The new materials allowed for greater detail and accuracy. Originally artists centered their work on themes of warfare, heroism, and courtship. However, over time, Native American artwork began reflecting a changing communal life due to displacement and the influence of white western culture.

One aspect of Fort Marion imprisonment was the creation of "life masks". Life masks and death masks were popular during the 19th Century and the life masks of Native American POWs were a Smithsonian commission obstensibly meant to capture the faces of peoples on the verge of extinction. Since they were a Smithsonian commission they are not covered under the 1990 Native American Grave Protection and Repatriation Act. NAGPRA is legislation that provides requirements for the return of Native American artifacts to tribes and/or descendants.

 

Ledger Drawing, Cheyenne Buffalo Chase, David Oakerhater Pendleton known as the artist "Making Medicine" created during his incarceration as a POW at Fort Marion (in St. Augustine, Florida). Massachusetts Historical Society.

 

 

Driving in the horses, Book of drawings by the Kiowa artist Koba given to Miss Josephine Russell in 1876 by Captain Richard H. Pratt, Commander of Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida. Plains Ledger Art Digital Publishing Project (PILA), Department of Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego.

 

 

Artwork, Black Hawk, Collected by William Edward Caton, Indian Trader at the Cheyenne Agency in Dakota, and bound in 1881. Statement bound into ledger book: Bound volume of INDIAN PICTURES DRAWN BY BLACK HAWK, CHIEF MEDICINE MAN OF THE SIOUX. Plains Ledger Art Digital Publishing Project (PILA), Department of Ethnic Studies, UC San Diego.

This sketch is part of a series created by the artist Black Hawk and represents incidents from a long dream. The content of the work was specifically requested by federal employee William Edward Caton. Caton paid Black Hawk fifty cents per drawing for his collection. Some records indicate that this price may have been unusually low. Historical accounts of ledger art sales indicate that their market worth was two dollars per page.

 

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