Skip to Content
Ledger Drawing of two Native American warriors and their painted horses - Donald Ellis Gallery

Ledger Drawing

attributed to Cedar Tree
Cedar Tree Ledger Book (pg 25)
Southern Arapaho
Central Plains

ca. 1880

crayon and graphite on lined paper

height: 7 ¼"
width: 12 ½"

Inventory # P4354-25



Collected at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency, Darlington, Indian Territory, Oklahoma, in 1882

Sotheby’s, New York, December 4, 1997, lot 447

Jose Bedia, Miami, FL


Crónicas de Guerra, amor y visiones místicas/Chronicles of War, Love and Mystic Visions, Bedia, Jose, (Buenos Aires: Latin American Art, 2008), pgs. 32-33

This drawing, attributed to Cedar Tree of the Southern Arapaho nation, is described in the ledger’s original 19th century text as: “Bird and Big Tree talking.” By his red face paint we are able to identify the figure on the right as Big Tree, also known as Cedar Tree. The two warriors have dismounted their well accessorized horses and face one another. The spontoon-style tomahawk which hangs from Cedar Tree’s saddle, as a well as the small black crow feather that is tied to his horse’s unwrapped tail, may not transmit exactly what is being said in this social encounter but they do provide insight into the great care Cedar Tree took in presenting himself, and the close attention to detail that are characteristic of his drawings.

This drawing is page 25 from the Cedar Tree Ledger Book. The fifty-six drawings comprising the Cedar Tree Ledger are the result of a collaborative effort between five or six Native American artists of the Kiowa, Southern Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne nations. Collected in 1882, at the Cheyenne and Arapaho Agency in Darlington, Oklahoma, the ledger book contained, on the last page, a list handwritten in English by one of the ledger’s first non-Indigenous owners. For each folio, the author briefly describes the content of the drawing as well as the tribal identity of its artist. Compellingly, this list shows that this ledger was drawn by artists from different Native nations; Kiowa, Arapaho, and Cheyenne. We can infer, given the groups’ geographic proximity to one another, and where the ledger was collected, that latter artists are in fact Southern Arapaho and Southern Cheyenne respectively.

Featured in the Press