Beaded Ledger Art: Todd Bordeaux


Todd is a member of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe. This award-winning, self-taught artist continues to perfect his craft by learning from his father, Ted Bordeaux and his girlfriend Karen Beaver. Among his accolades are awards for Best of Show in 1999 at the Black Hills Art Expo and the Artist Choice Award at Indigenous Peoples Art Market in 2001. Bordeaux boasts 14 awards in seven juried art shows. His jewelry and beadwork art is highly sought after by celebrities and collectors alike.

This piece won Best of Class for Fine Art at the 2007 Northern Plains Indian Art Market in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Artist Statement:

"The newspaper is a reproduction of the original. It is printed on paper fibers from the lokta tree in Nepal. The drawings are done with ink and colored pencil.

At what the Lakotas call Greasy Grass, several tribes formed one of the largest tipi camps in history. The "Red Lodges" or tipis with the tops painted red represented homes of my people the Sicangu. Before the battle Chief Sitting Bull had a vision of the falling soldiers. He wears the regalia of a chief and his Lakota name is written above him which says in Lakota "Sitting Strong Like a Buffalo Bull". Crazy Horse is nearby and simply wears paint, a breach cloth, moccasins, and a redtailed hawk feather. He carries a rifle. Crazy Horses name was passed down by his father with the same name. The name refers to a courageous horse that carried men into battle. The victory represented an example of the indigenous fight for freedom and the right to live.

Not long ago a prairie fire burned the Little Big Horn Battle site. Researchers studied the ballistics on the battlefield. It proved that the tribes in the camp had traded for some of the most advanced pistols and repeating rifles of their time . Contrary to popular history "A Last Stand" on a hill was not found in the ballistic reports. That day the 7th Calvary flag was taken and reportedly a piece of Custer's scalp was taken also. I depicted Sitting Bull carrying both for a moment. The men ride accross the newspaper.

Despite what the Tribune Extra of Bismark wrote, tribal oral history of the Lakota, Cheyenne, Arapaho, and Crow tribes says that the battle was finished in the time it took a hungry man to eat a meal or twenty-two minutes.

Dragonflies represent one of many spiritual medicines to warriors. Dragonflies were painted on shields, shirts and robes. Dragonflies have been associated with thunder which is a source of immense stregnth, power, and healing.

To bead the men I used Czech and Japanese seed beads, nylon thread, felt and leather. I took a different approach to Plains ledger art in the way the warriors are beaded on printed paper. The piece is framed with acid-free matte board."



click pic for close-up

Glass seed beads (size 13 and size 11), nylon thread, felt, leather,
vintage newspaper reproduction, and acid-free matte.

 Best of Class - Fine Arts - NPIAM
(ribbon to accompany piece)

"Victory at Greasy Grass"
13 x 17 Beaded Ledger Art
(framed 17 x 20 3/4)

Price: $4,400.00

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About the Art:

Ledger 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 political statements.

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. Todd Bordeaux is the first to combine beadwork applique with ledger paper to create a three-dimensional work of art that takes this genre into the 21st century.

Todd finds inspiration from history of the Great Plains and his surroundings at his home near the Little White River in South Dakota. He divides his time between working on his house and land, creating pieces, and attending art shows. His contemporary style of beadwork and mastery of color have won him numerous awards at art shows. His work was included in Changing Hands, Art without Reservation, 2 at the Museum of Arts & Design in New York City.

Todd has created an easy to remove frame, allowing the purchaser to customize this work for their own environment.

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