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Ledger Drawing in graphite and coloured pencil depicting male Crow dancers | Donald Ellis Gallery
Ledger Drawing depicting a Native American rider on his painted horse | Donald Ellis Gallery

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Coffeen Ledger Book
Northern Plains

ca. 1890-1910


graphite and coloured pencil on lined paper

height: 3 ½"
width: 5 ½"

Inventory # P4256-2

Please contact the gallery for more information.


Herbert Allen Coffeen (March 11, 1869, Bement, IL - August 31, 1916, Pasadena, CA), Sheridan, WY

This double-sided drawing by an unidentified Crow artist captures a procession of four warriors on one side, while the verso depicts a mounted warrior waving what appears to be a version of the stars and stripes of the American flag from high upon his horse. In both instances, the figures are dressed in full ceremonial regalia and display elaborate face paint. Astute attention is paid to the painting of the horse, which exemplifies the particular importance of the animal in Indigenous Plains life. These drawings are among the many intriguing intercultural scenes found within the pages of what has come to be known as the Coffeen Ledger Book. The drawings are unusual in their singular representation of almost cinematic frames from a classic Western frontier town. The Coffeen Ledgers were created on pages of a bank passbook issued by the First National Bank in Sheridan, Wyoming. It is likely that the artist was living on the Crow Indian Reservation just inside the Montana border north of Sheridan. It was a common occurrence that the Crow (and other nations) frequented towns such as Sheridan to acquire necessary goods and provisions. The appearance of urban features in some of the drawings are unique amongst Ledger art of the same period. The scenes presented here are likely drawn from real events held in conjunction with Fourth of July celebrations. The Crow are known to have participated extensively in country fairs and stampedes, parading the streets in full regalia, and partaking in activities such as rodeos and racing. Unlike many stereotypical portrayals, the Coffeen Ledger Book offers an alternative view of cultural exchange on the American frontier of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. By paying unusual attention to detail, this Crow artist proudly expresses his keen interest in recording Indigenous clothing styles and cultural activities in the context of a shared participatory public life.

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