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Goodwyn Ledger Book

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist, Goodwyn Ledger Book, Lakota, Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan, ca. 1880


Learn more about the Goodwyn Ledger Book

The Goodwyn Ledger Book contains the only known and documented series of Ledger Drawings originating from the geographic region of Canada. The handwritten notes on the accounting paper on which the drawings were originally created clearly indicate that the contributing artists resided in the Wood Mountain Uplands in what is now southwestern Saskatchewan in the early 1880s. Crucially, this makes them contemporaneous to the allied Lakota and Cheyenne resistance to American colonial expansion, military violence and the reservation system in the 1860s and 1870s. Led, among others, by Hunkpapa Lakota leader Sitting Bull, approximately 5,000 Lakota people migrated to present-day Saskatchewan following the Battle of the Little Bighorn/Greasy Grass in 1876. The Goodwyn drawings thus manifest acts of war and resistance that implicate Canada and the U.S. in the very moment of their respective formations. In stark contrast to mainstream narratives, however, they capture events from an Indigenous point of view. Uniquely placed at the intersection of art, documentary and storytelling, the importance of the Goodwyn Ledger Book in preserving and recounting the shared histories of the Lakota and Canadian nations cannot be overstated.

The Goodwyn Ledger Drawings illuminate Lakota warrior culture and the importance of the horse, or Shukawakan (Holy Dog) to it. Rooted in longstanding Indigenous pictographic traditions, the majority of drawings depict individual war exploits or acts of valour, such as counting coup on an enemy. Great attention is paid to details of attire and weaponry, allowing for the identification of particular war societies in which only seasoned and victorious warriors could participate. The quality of the line is superb, each figure rendered in few sweeping motions. Compact in scale, the gesture of the line reflects and enhances the dynamic movement of the subject matter itself. Named after the first non-Indigenous owner W.H. Goodwyn, at least five distinct warrior artists contributed drawings to the book. Corresponding with Lakota cultural practices, it is likely that one artist drew the other warrior's deeds and honours. As scholar Claire Thomson points out, the oral histories carried by the Goodwyn Ledger would have been related and validated communally, a process known as waktóglake. As such, the drawings encapsulate cultural understandings of time, place, community and shared values at a pivotal moment in Lakota history. Including the Goodwyn Ledger Drawings in a major museum collection is both timely and appropriate to their artistic, cultural and historic significance to Canada and North America more broadly.


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Category: Goodwyn Ledger Book

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Results: 7

Ledger Drawing P4394-40

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Goodwyn Ledger Book
Lakota
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4394-40
Ledger Drawing P4394-18

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Goodwyn Ledger Book
Lakota
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4394-18
Ledger Drawing P4394-60

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Goodwyn Ledger Book
Lakota
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4394-60
Ledger Drawing P4394-28

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Goodwyn Ledger Book
Lakota
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4394-28
Ledger Drawing P4394-41

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Goodwyn Ledger Book
Lakota
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4394-41
Ledger Drawing P4394-43

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Goodwyn Ledger Book
Lakota
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4394-43
Ledger Drawing P4394-2

Ledger Drawing

anonymous artist
Goodwyn Ledger Book
Lakota
Wood Mountain, Saskatchewan
ca. 1880
Inventory # P4394-2
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