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Title Kiowa Indian ledger drawings [manuscript]: [between 1880 and 1890]
Document Type Ledger Book; Art
Description From the Newberry Library Catalogue: Kiowa Indian ledger drawings, probably created during the early reservation period between 1880 and 1890, containing drawings by warrior artists of battle scenes, breaking wild horses, hunting, and courting. Ledger drawings form part of the long tradition of the Plains Indians of chronicling their lives pictorially, first on buffalo hides, and later, between 1865 and 1935, on the blank pages of ledger books obtained from U.S. soldiers, traders, missionaries, and reservation employees. These drawings, on leaves removed from an ordinary blue-ruled writing tablet, depict Kiowa Indians hunting deer with rifles, and buffalo with bow and arrow. A pencilled caption above the deer-hunting scene has been erased. Three leaves contain scenes of warfare, with braves on horseback and on foot, some wearing long trail war bonnets, and carrying shields, feathered lances, rifles, knives, and bows and arrows. Several warriors on leaf 4 appear to be members of the Kaitsenko Society (the Kiowa version of the Dog Soldier Society, widespread among the cultures of the Plains), identified by the broad red sash which only the ten bravest fighters were selected to wear. In the drawing on leaf 3, a triumphant Indian stands over a fallen U.S. Army soldier with two arrows in his side, a brigade of infantrymen in gray and blue army uniforms in the background. Another drawing depicts fighting among Indian tribes; and on verso of leaf 2, a Kiowa warrior is shown returning from a war expedition with an enemy scalp on a pole. The last two leaves contain scenes of courtship or family life, with a man and a woman, both wearing colorful striped blankets, standing by a tipi, by the edge of a river or at the foot of the mountains. The lightly-pencilled caption "Dress" appears below the final drawing.
Keywords art, ledger art, personal account, observation, warrior, war, battle, horse, hunting, social life, buffalo, weapon, armed forces, hostility, scalping, family life, dress, custom, culture
Theme Observation, Representation and Cultural Encounters
Tribe / Nation
Culture Area Great Plains
Additional Information Identification of drawings by Plains Indians authority and Newberry scholar, Father Peter J. Powell. The twelve drawings are positioned horizontally (typical in ledger art) on recto and verso of each of six leaves, drawn in gray graphite pencil, and red, blue, and yellow colored pencil; traces of old adhesive with which tablet was bound on inner margins of drawings. Ms. foliation in pencil in upper right-hand corner of recto. Ownership stamp of Charles Giles of Woodstock, Illinois on recto of leaf 5.
Library The Newberry Library
Copyright The Newberry Library
Collection The Edward E. Ayer Collection
Reference VAULT Ayer MS 3228
Catalogue Link The Newberry Library Catalogue