More Than Words: Storytelling as a Primary Source

Changes in Storytelling: Ledger Art

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Ledger Art uses drawings as a way to document important events and allows Native American artists to represent themselves. 1.) Why do you think it's important for individuals to be able to speak for, or represent themselves? 2.) What can happen when others tell and retell the personal stories of others?

"Howling Wolf's pictogram to his father Minimic."

Towards the end of the South Plains Indian Wars, the US Army punished Cheyenne, Kiowa, Comanche, Arapaho, Caddo, and warriors from other Plains communities for defending their homelands by sending them to Florida's Fort Marion prison in 1875.

These war prisoners wanted to continue the tradition of winter counts by documenting important events through drawing. Guards gave the prisoners used leftover ledger paper from books used to record all financial transactions, known as ledger books.

Take a look at the Ledger Art pictogram - a picture or graphic representation that replaces written words- that tells the story of Howling Wolf’s journey from Fort Marion prison to Savannah and beyond.

1.) Howling Wolf drew this for this father, how do you think this influenced the drawing? 2.) Would you consider this a primary source?  3.) What questions does this pictogram leave you with?  What is the next step in answering questions that arise?

Image Credit: Graphite and ink on paper by Howling Wolf (Cheyenne), 1877, insert found in the book, Book of sketches made at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida, 1877. Massachusetts Historical Society.”