Ledger Drawings

Glenbow's collection of 56 ledger drawings is one of the largest and most significant of its kind in Canada. They are important as the earliest works on paper by First Nations artists. The term 'ledger drawing' refers to the Indian agent's accountant's paper or ledger on which drawings by First Nations artists were done from the 1870s to the 1900s. The drawings describe heraldic accounts like battles and subjects such as the buffalo, the hunt, parades, ceremonies, and dance. There are also depictions of everyday domestic scenes and love stories. The artist Hongeeyesa was a member of Carry the Kettle tribe. The drawings were probably commissioned by Dr. O.C. Edwards who was an Indian Department physician in the Regina, Fort Qu'Appelle, and Indian Head areas of the District of Assiniboia, now in southern Saskatchewan. In 1985, 44 ledger drawings were purchased from E.S. Gardiner, a grandson of Dr. Edwards. Twelve more drawings were added to the collection in 1993 with the assistance of a Canada Repatriation Grant.

Untitled, 1897

First Nations (Assinboine) (1860-1927)
Untitled, 1897
pencil and watercolour on paper
Glenbow Museum Collection; Purchased with funds from the Glenbow Museum Acquisitions Society, 1985

The drawing depicts ceremonial dance called "charging the kettle." Wearing feather belts, two warriors dance with arms outstretched towards a kettle filled with dog meat. They charge it and give a taste to each person. This continues until they hit the head of the dog. The dance may be symbolic of bravery.

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