For Immediate Release

Visible Language Series Lecture: A War of Words: Rethinking Plains Indian "Ledger Art"

(Cambridge, March 7, 2011) During the nineteenth century, Plains Indian warriors began to use Euroamerican pens and pencils to draw images of their war exploits on paper, often in bound “ledger books." The resulting images, known as “ledger art,” have become valued as works of art and as records of Native American perspectives on historic events and culture change.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology presents the illustrated talk, "A War of Words: Rethinking Plains Indian 'Ledger Art'" on Thursday, April 7, 2011 at Harvard's Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St.). It is part of the Peabody Museum's year-long Visible Language lecture series. A public reception will follow at the Peabody Museum.

By focusing on iconography, researchers have linked these ledger drawings to earlier pictographic traditions, making the adoption of Euroamerican media seem unproblematic and incidental. Scholarship has also concentrated on reservation-era drawings. Research on a recently discovered and early ledger at Harvard's Houghton Library challenges current understandings of ledger drawings and calls attention to nineteenth-century Native understandings of Plains “ledgers” as three-dimensional objects. A comparative analysis of pre-reservation ledgers suggests that the practice of capturing and drawing on Euroamerican documents emerged in response to the perceived power of literacy during U.S. westward expansion and related military conflicts. Rather than being a Plains-wide practice of image-making, “ledger art” seems to have originated among a small group of Cheyenne and Lakota war leaders who formed hybrid bands of resistance fighters determined to oppose U.S. encroachment.

Castle McLaughlin is Associate Curator of North American Ethnography at the Peabody Museum, and co-curator of the exhibition Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West.

About the Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Hours and location: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station. Admission is $9 for adults, $7 for students and seniors, $6 for children, 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Admission includes admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to: www.peabody.harvard.edu.

Find us on Facebookfacebook link, Flickrflickr link, Twittertwitter link, and YouTube YouTube link

Media Contact:

Faith Sutter
Communications Coordinator
Peabody Museum
Tel: 617-495-3397
sutter@fas.harvard.edu

 

 

Share this
Ledger drawing by unknown Indian warrior, probably Lakota, ca. 1865. Detail from

Ledger drawing by unknown Indian warrior, probably Lakota, ca. 1865. Detail from Half Moon ledger book. Courtesy Houghton Library, Harvard University.

High resolution image available on request.

Thursday, April 7, 2011: "A War of Words: Rethinking Plains Indian 'Ledger Art'"

Castle McLaughlin, Associate Curator of North American Ethnography, Peabody Museum

5:30 PM Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge, followed by a public reception at the Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge

FREE

Information: 617-496-1027 or www.peabody.harvard.edu/calendar

See more about the Visible Language series.

Related Exhibition: Wiyohpiyata: Lakota Images of the Contested West

 


 

 

Harvard University | Department of Anthropology | Human Evolutionary Biology
Privacy | Terms of Use | Site Map | Webmaster 
Calendar of Events

©2013 Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Harvard University, 11 Divinity Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02138

Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University

 


.