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According to a handwritten note found inside the ledger, Captain R. Big Foot's band was disarmed at the village of Wounded Knee, but for unknown reasons a single shot was fired in the process.
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Accounts vary as to who fired first and why, but the gunshot incited the soldiers to fire rapidly on Big Foot's band. Anywhere from to Sioux were killed that day, including many women and children. Red Hawk almost certainly lived in the Wounded Knee Creek district of the Pine Ridge Reservation as census rolls of the area from - list two men named Red Hawk, as well as many of the men depicted in the ledger drawings. His involvement in the incident at Wounded Knee is still unclear.
On the day of the massacre, a few neighboring warriors attempted to help Big Foot's band and it is possible that Red Hawk was one such warrior. However, it is speculated that Captain Miller acquired the ledger from one of the two Red Hawks found in the census rather than someone involved in the massacre. The Red Hawk ledger art is drawn in the characteristic Sioux style with no background and few identifying traits for the warriors pictured.
Flight of the Hawk: The Plains (A Novel of the American West)
The majority of the drawings show episodes of warfare and horse capture, particularly between the Sioux and Crow. Both tribes were longtime enemies of each other and, during the time the ledgers were drawn, conflicts between the two nations were common. The Crow allied with the U.
Army, fighting and acting as scouts, especially during the s against the Sioux and Nez Perce. Discrepancies in artistic ability and style indicate that several men besides Red Hawk contributed to the ledger. In addition, many of the drawings include the name of the pictured warrior written in Lakota, English, or both, as well as descriptive captions.
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The captions are written in a different handwriting from the names suggesting that someone, possibly Captain Miller, added the captions at a later date. In , the Milwaukee Public Museum published a portfolio containing 36 reproductions of the Red Hawk ledger drawings with an accompanying informational booklet.
The portfolio is now out of print, but can still be purchased from the Museum's Out of Print Publications. For more information on ledger art and to view other collections visit plainsledgerart.
Contact Dawn Scher Thomae. The Ledger Art Collection. Plains ledger art was adopted as a means of historical representation for the Indian peoples of the Great Plains during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.