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. 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.