For ages, Plains Indian warriors drew and painted illustrations of their deeds on rock, bison hides, tipi liners or robes. In the mid nineteenth, they began to use other materials which they learned of after contact with Anglos such as pencils and ledgerbooks obtained through trade, gift or capture. This Cheyenne Dog Soldier ledgerbook is an excellent example of ledger art. It is a hardbound composition-style ledger with a marbleized cover containing 106 color pencil drawings by fourteen different warrior artists. The drawings are made on pages ruled in light blue ink, with the page number on the outside upper margin.
The Cheyenne Dog Soldier Ledgerbook provides a detailed account in pictures of the late 1860s, one of the most tumultuous periods of history in Colorado. The Dog Soldiers who were a military society comprised of Southern Cheyenne, Northern Cheyenne and Lakotas, played a dominant role in the Cheyenne resistance to American expansion in the traditional territory of the Cheyenne, which includes Colorado. The ledgerbook allows us to get a better understanding of what took place in Colorado during from the perspective of the Dog Soldiers themselves.
The Dog Soldier Ledgerbook is one of the earliest extant Cheyenne ledgerbooks. It depicts real people and events that took place between the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 and the Battle of Summit Springs in 1869, when it was picked up on the battlefield after an attack by the 5th U.S. Calvary and Pawnee scouts on Tall Bull’s Cheyenne Dog Soldier Village there. The drawings are very detailed and have allowed contemporary Cheyenne people and historians to identify artists in the book, as well as individuals and events.
Denver, CO 80203