Darryl Growing Thunder,
Assiniboine-Sioux, is an award wining ledger artist from the
Indian reservation in Montana.
He is also the son of acclaimed
beadwork and quillwork artist, Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty.
Together with his extended
family, including his talented wife, Ramey (who is also a bead
artist), Darryl shows each year at the Santa Fe Indian Market.
He has won numerous ribbons for his work, including several for
first place, and he almost always sells out.
A few of Darryl's influences
include George Flett, Dwayne Wilcox, and Donald Montileaux.
Growing up as a member
of the Assiniboine and Sioux from the Fort Peck Reservation,
and a descendant of the Suquamish Tribe of Washington, I have
always been surrounded by art. You could say it was a way of
life, whether it was the astounding bead or quillwork created
by my mother Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty or the ease in which
my father Jim Fogarty put paint to canvas in his paintings of
Western and American Indian heritage. My mother and my sister,
Juanita would sit for hours working their fingers to thick calluses
and needle pricks as they transformed porcupine quills, beads
and brain tanned buckskin into War shirts, Pipe bags, pad saddles
or moccasins. Now it is my wife Ramey, also from the Fort Peck
Reservation, who shares in the hope of preserving our unique
style of art on the Fort Peck Reservation.
It is from this passion, dedication and immersion in Assiniboine
and Sioux art that has enabled me to produce a style of art that
was originally developed around the turn of the century. "Ledger"
account books and records were adapted to replace the once abundant
hides that were used to record deeds accomplished on the battle
field, ceremonial events, or daily life including hunting and
It is my goal and ambition that this style of "ledger art
"continues to pay tribute to the perseverance of my ancestors
who adapted and created works of art during a period of life
changing turmoil and injustice. It is through our art that we
as Indigenous people can maintain our identity and pass this
identity down to generations to come.
About the Art:
derives from a tradition that used pictographic codes to keep
historical records and serve as mnemonic reminders for storytelling.
The pictographs were originally inscribed on rocks and painted
on buffalo robes, shields, lodges, and tipis. Warriors painted
their historic deeds on their buffalo robes and tipis to designate
their positions in the tribe. When U. S. fur companies, settlers,
and cavalry destroyed the buffalo herd, the warriors turned to
ledger books with balance sheets used to record white profits
made from Indian losses.
Soon the warrior-artists
started to record council scenes and scenes from daily life on
ledger pages to grapple with and interpret their changing condition.
The resulting layering reflects the complicated dynamics of Indians
going through various stages of traumatic historical change,
attempting to preserve their history, resist white authority
and power, negotiate tribal and individual identity, and, as
the tradition has been adapted by contemporary artists, make
The most remarkable and
important ledger books were produced by Plains Indian warriors
imprisoned in Fort Marion Plains Indian warriors imprisoned in
Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, from 1875 to 1878.
Modern artists continue
to perpetuate ledger art as a fine art form, capturing and reconnecting
with the past through traditional and contemporary mediums.