Macnider Ledger Book, Lakota, ca. 1880
The Macnider Ledger Book is a highly important art-historical record created by several Lakota warrior artists at the onset of the Reservation Period. Produced during a time of tremendous upheaval, these drawings are both a window to life on the open Plains as well as a revealing documentation of the sudden and fundamental changes that occurred from the 1870’s onwards. Each drawing is a vibrant record of past events. Horse tracks suggest direction and speed, while graphic lines radiating from a gun barrel indicate shots fired at the warrior. Here, the highly abstracted imagery seen on earlier pictographic traditions on hide and rock gives way to a more realistic perspective, showing attempts at fore-shortening and three-quarter views. Costume and personal adornments are rendered with great attention to detail, while the frequent depiction of trade goods, such as colourful blankets, umbrellas and kettles, are a rare feature in early Ledger Art.