From Library Journal
The truly remarkable aspect of this book concerns its methodology. Berlo (Native American art, Univ. of Missouri, St. Louis) manages to bring together multiple viewpoints that enlarge this subject, opening it out to a richer social and historical context. Based on an engaging exhibition organized by the Drawing Center, New York, and the American Federation of Arts, the volume offers essays, artists' statements, and catalog entries that more fully illuminate the work of 36 Plains Indian artists. Although there have been several publications on those Plains Indian ledger drawings created while the artists were in federal prisons, this book covers the reservation period, when the richest work was produced. The picture that emerges is a more fully realized perspective on what this art meant to its creators. This study offers a vigorous examination of narrative Native American art in transition and contains a wealth of new, and even previously unknown, details on Plains Indian drawing. An essential acquisition for academic collections where Native American culture and art intersect.?Paula A. Baxter, NYPL
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Whereas their forebears traditionally drew on buffalo hides, nineteenth-century Plains Indians transferred this artistic genre onto inventory ledger books that were often already filled with lists in spidery writing. Earlier winter accountings of events, which is what the drawings are, depicted victories and continuing struggle, but those from this period illustrate an accelerating spiral of loss and defeat. A line of uniformed Indian prisoners is shown being photographed, while another is being pressed through military drills. Still, there is also transcription of traditional ways, such as the Caddo stomp dance, the Kiowa honoring song, and the sun dance. Excellent scholarly introductions set the historical and artistic contexts for the colorplates of the drawings. An especially interesting section provides commentary by four contemporary Native American artists on the ongoing influence of these seemingly childlike sketches. Patricia Monaghan