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No. 1 JANUARY 2002

LEDGER ART IN THE RUTHERFORD B. HAYES PAPERS


WARRIOR ON HORSEBACK by White Bear, Arapaho


BUFFALO HUNT by Baldwin, Sioux


COURTING SCENE by White Bear, Arapaho

Four tablets of Native American ledger art are a part of the Rutherford B. Hayes Papers. Captain Richard H. Pratt, superintendent of the Carlisle Indian Industrial School, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, gave the tablets containing 63 drawings to First Lady Lucy Webb Hayes. The Hayeses, like Pratt, believed that through education in the English language, the trades, white culture, patriotism, Christianity, and citizenship, Native people would soon find their place in mainstream American society.

During the nineteenth century, warriors of the Great Plains created drawings on hides and later on paper, providing a visual record of their battle exploits, feats of bravery, supernatural visions, and buffalo hunts. Artists employed pen and ink, watercolors, or colored pencils to create images of the plains horse culture. They used a well understood set of conventions that simplified both technique and form in an effort to communicate or record information about an event.

At least five different artists, three of whom have been identified, created the drawings shortly after Carlisle was established in October 1879 and before March 1880. White Bear, a thirty-year-old Arapaho warrior, had been imprisoned at Fort Marion, St. Augustine, Florida. When released, White Bear decided to remain in the East for more education. He followed Pratt to Hampton Institute and then Carlisle Indian Industrial School. White Bear returned to the Arapaho - Cheyenne Agency in January of 1880 because of poor health. He worked as a scout and cowboy until his death in 1891.

Two other Carlisle students, John Washa and Baldwin, are responsible for a portion of the drawings. Washa, a fifteen-year-old Cheyenne, was originally known as Tomahawk, the son of Chief Black Short Nose. After three years at Carlisle, he returned to the Cheyenne Agency and married Medicine Woman. As late as 1910, he was known to be living on his 160-acre farm near Clinton, Oklahoma.

Less is known about Baldwin, a young Sioux, who was also one of Carlisle's first students. By 1882, he had returned to the Pine Ridge Agency where he and several other Carlisle graduates constructed homes.