#lookback: Running Antelope & Ledger Art

    Left: Running Antelope, Lakota Chief and Warrior. Right: A ledger drawing by Lakota warrior Running Antelope. It shows an individual war exploit where Running Antelope attacks two Arikara. Running Antelope signed his name with a name glyph – the small antelope in the lower right of the image.

    A series where we take a #lookback at the stories and history of our community, brought to you by Mick Pryor, Financial Advisor with Edward Jones.

    The Lander Pioneer Museum opened a new exhibit this month on Native American Ledger Drawings. Ledger Drawings are works created by American Plains Tribes to record war and personal exploits, ceremonies and other aspects of life of the Native American people. These drawings were done on discarded paper ledgers. Called “Tribal Warrior Art,” the exhibit is of work that has never been on public display.

    Native American people had a long history of recording significant personal events – at first on rock as petroglyphs, then on hides, tipis, war shirts and other items. When the Plains Tribes were put on reservations beginning in the 1870s, access to hides was limited and the warriors began drawing their stories on ledgers that had been discarded by the military or merchants. They were mostly done in colored pencil, crayon or pen.

    The exhibit features over 80 pieces by Lakota, Kiowa, Cheyenne, Arapaho and other tribes. The exhibit will be in the main gallery of the museum through next fall. The collection is on loan from the James and Michael Stewart Collection.

    For many of the pieces the artist is unknown, but for some of them the museum has been able to identify the artist and tribal affiliation. In the collection are three pieces by Running Antelope.

    Running Antelope (1821–1896) became a head chief of the Lakota Hunkpapa in 1851. Known for his bravery in war, and skills in oratory and diplomacy, Running Antelope was one of four Hunkpapa principal chiefs who acted as close advisors to Sitting Bull during the Plains Indian Wars. His belief that compromise with the whites was in their best interests led to his eventually distancing himself from Sitting Bull.

    When Running Antelope was born near the Grand River, presently South Dakota, in 1821, few white men were in the area. He grew up in the old traditions of his people. He learned to ride and hunt, and later went on horse-stealing expeditions and war parties and joined the secret societies. By the time he reached manhood things had changed. The whites were numerous, and the Indians were forced to adapt to the new conditions. Many Sioux fought the whites encroaching on their land. Running Antelope was one of the first Hunkpapas to reject the warpath and become a friend of the whites.

    In 1851, Running Antelope was elected one of four “shirt wearers” of the Hunkpapa. A shirt wearer served to intercede between the council and the headmen who carried out tribal policy and decisions. He was a brave warrior and accomplished diplomat.

    It was said that Running Antelope was the greatest orator of the Sioux Nation. He attended the Fort Laramie, Fort Rice and Fort Peck treaty councils, and became a dominant leader of the reservation Hunkpapa people at the Grand River Agency. Running Antelope established a settlement of about sixty families in the Grand River valley and opened a store. In his later years, he regretted signing the 1868 Treaty and longed for the time when the Lakota were free, and realigned with Sitting Bull. Late in 1880, the followers of Sitting Bull began to return from exile in Canada and in the spring of 1881, Running Antelope was enlisted as a scout in the army to go to Fort Buford to escort Gall and his followers to the Standing Rock Reservation in South Dakota. Running Antelope died in 1896, at age about 75.

    Next up for the Fremont County Museums

    December 8, 2pm at the Riverton Museum, “Make Your Own Christmas Ornaments”

    Children’s Exploration Series Program

    December 8, 9-5pm at the Riverton Museum, “Christmas Open House”

    December 8, 10-4pm at the Dubois Museum, “Christmas Open House’

    December 8, 5pm at the Pioneer Museum, “Old Fashioned Christmas”

    Children’s Exploration Series Program

    December 15, 3pm at the Dubois Museum, “Christmas Crafts”

    Children’s Exploration Series Program

    The Dubois Museum, the Pioneer Museum in Lander and the Riverton Museum work extremely hard to provide programs, care for the facilities, create exhibits and care for the thousands of artifacts and archival documents in the collections of the museums. In order to consistently accomplish these objectives the museums are more reliant than ever on donations from the private sector. Please make your tax deductible contribution to be used specifically for the benefit of the museum of your choosing by sending a check to Fremont County Museums 450 N 2nd Rm 320 or taking it directly to the museum you choose to support.


    Related Posts

    Have a news tip or an awesome photo to share?