A grand opening ceremony for a traveling exhibit featuring Lakota ledger art took place on Friday, August 2, at the Lakota Cultural Center in Eagle Butte.
Attendance for the event reached over 100 spectators, and included Wounded Knee Massacre descendants and Wounded Knee Memorial motorcyclists.
The exhibit has touched the hearts of many across Cheyenne River due to its deep historical and familial connection to the area.
On December 29, 1890, a Mnicoujou man named Red Hawk was one of over 200 unarmed men, women, and children who were killed by the 7th Calvary at Wounded Knee.
Red Hawk was from Cherry Creek and it was from his remains that the book was taken days after the massacre, according to a press release from the Wyoming State Museum.
The original ledger book contains 116 scenes which depicted painted scenes of warfare, horse stealing, peace council meetings, incidents involving the Ghost Dance, and loving scenes of warriors returning to their wives.
The names of those illustrated are written on the drawings, and resulted in surprised recognition and an instant connection from exhibit attendees when they realized those depicted were their ancestors.
People named Holy Standing Buffalo, Quick Thunder, Shows The Feather, White Shield, and even Red Hawk himself, are shown in various scenes, doing brave deeds.
Throughout the exhibit, numerous narratives share information about Lakota life during the late 1800’s, giving a glimpse about painting techniques used by Lakota artists of that time period, and offer explanations of the different artistic roles which men and women played to create traditional Lakota art.
History of the ledger art book
In 1990, the original leather-bound ledger book was purchased by the Milwaukee Public Museum and included the following inscription:
“This book was captured from the Sioux Indians by Capt. R. Miller on Wounded Knee Creek, South Dakota Jan. 8th, 1891, and is a history of the Ghost Dance and the shirts worn by the Indians in the Ghost Dance. Was painted by a Sioux Warrior whose name was Red Hawk and is a correct History of the Book.” (Signed) Capt. R. Miller Rapid City, South Dakota.
In 1961, the Wyoming State Museum reproduced a small collection of prints from the ledger drawings, and were recreated in their original size, thus becoming the traveling exhibit.
Wounded Knee Descendants
At the grand opening ceremony, Heart of Wounded Knee Descendants Chairman Manny Iron Hawk served as a guest speaker.
Also in attendance was Valtina Little Shield of Cherry Creek. ______
The Wounded Knee Descendants Group also served lunch after the opening ceremonies. The exhibit is free to everyone and will be open until September 27. For more information, contact the Lakota Cultural Center at 964-2542.