Black Hawk (artist)
|Čhetáŋ Sápa (Black Hawk)|
Untitled drawing by Black Hawk depicting Lakota dancers
'Čhetáŋ Sápa' (Black Hawk) (ca. 1832–ca. 1890) was a medicine man and member of the Sans Arc or Itázipčho band of the Lakota people. He is remembered by a ledger book that depicts scenes of Lakota life and rituals. The book of 76 ledger drawings was commissioned by William Edward Caton, the federal "Indian trader" at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. Black Hawk's drawings are estimated to have been drawn between 1880-1881. Today they are known as one of the most complete visual records of Lakota life.
The earliest known record of Black Hawk dates to 1880 when he appears in a collection of census records. In 1868, Article 10 of the Treaty of Fort Laramie stipulated that extensive records of Indians be taken. Documents at the National Archives, Central Plans Region, in Kansas City show evidence of Black Hawk’s existence throughout the 1880s. An annuity and goods disbursement record from September 1880 lists Black Hawk as a member of the Sans Arc band. In these same records Black Hawk is said to have 4 family members. Based on the items that appear in the log (livestock, stove, bedstead) Black Hawk probably lived in a log cabin with his family. He is thought to have been married to a woman called Hollow Horn Woman and was a spiritual leader in his community. The titled of Black Hawk’s ledger book given to it by William Edward Caton reads "CHIEF MEDICINE MAN OF THE SIOUX". The Sioux Nation is made up of many different groups so it is unlikely that Black Hawk was the chief medicine man. However it is certain that Black Hawk was what would be known in the Lakota community as a Medicine Man. The scenes of cosmological visions and ritual that appear in Black Hawk’s drawings are rare amongst Lakota art. His ledger book offers insight into the rituals Black Hawk would have performed as a medicine man of the Sans Arc Lakota. Black Hawk had at least one son who is on record as being born in 1862. From these same records we know Black Hawk was married to a woman named Hollow Horn Woman. The name Hollow Horn dates back to a Lakota myth in which a woman brings a sacred pipe to chief Standing Hollow Horn and ensures prosperity for the Lakota. Black Hawk lived with his family in a southern part of the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation known as the Cherry Creek District. The last record of Black Hawk at the Cheyenne River Reservation was in 1889. Nothing is known about Black Hawk's death but due to the last known date of his existence it is suspected that he died in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890.
The Indian Trader William Edward Canton commissioned Black Hawk to create a series of drawings during the winter of 1880-1881. According to Edith M. Teall, Canton’s daughter, Canton offered Black Hawk 50 cents for every drawing he produced. This equated to a generous sum. In 1890 milk was around 14 cents and butter was around 25. Black Hawk would have been able to survive the winter which was said to have been harsh. A statement by Caton's daughter and bound into the volume reiterates that Black Hawk was a "Chief Medicine men" [sic] and "was in great straits" in the winter of 1880–1881 with "several squaws and numerous children dependent upon him." It continues: "He had absolutely nothing, no food, and would not beg." Black Hawk produced 76 drawings during the winter of 1880-1881 with the intention of selling them to Canton. The drawings were not meant to be presented in any order. They were originally done on regular foolscap paper measuring 13'' x 16'' and were cut down to their current size of 10 ¼'' x 16 ½''. The materials Black Hawk used were a collection of what Canton had available. The sheets of paper have different water marks on them and are ruled using varying dimensions. Black Hawk drew most of the drawings using only pen, colored pencil, and ink. After Black Hawk gave Canton the drawings he arranged them and had them bound in Minneapolis using a hand-bookbinding technique still used by specialists today. The captions that are alongside the images are also Canton’s contribution. Canton arranged the drawings to begin with the most powerful two images. The opening scenes depict Thunder Beings Black Hawk would have seen during a vision quest. He captioned the images "Dream or Vision of himself changed to a destroyer and riding a Buffalo Eagle" and "Same as first"
Black Hawk's drawings include seventeen warfare scenes, seventeen natural history scenes featuring fifteen animal species, and numerous drawings of Lakota ceremonies, Black Hawk's spiritual visions, and depictions of Lakota cosmology. The "Thunder Beings" depicted in Black Hawk's book of drawings are a compilation of attributes from a horse, buffalo and eagle. While spirit quests were usually a solitary activity, Black Hawk's drawings serve to share his vision with other members of the community.
Black Hawk’s comprehensive account of Lakota life done at a time when the Lakota tradition had never been more threatened has endured over 100 years and remains relevant today. Many contemporary Native American Artists look to the art of ledger book as inspiration for their work. Francis Yellow a contemporary Lakota artist wrote a poem entitled Cetan Sapa Tatehila, Black Hawk’s Love. In the poem Yellow writes “Cetan Sapa’s love made real on paper across time beyond death with pencil and crayon and something that’s moving unseen.” Black Hawk’s ledger book is a helpful source for the ethnographic examination of Lakota culture. It is one of the only ledger books that shows interaction with an enemy tribe. Black Hawk’s depiction of Crow warriors and ceremony is unique amongst Lakota artwork and offers us insight into intertribal relations.
In 1994, the ledger book was sold in an auction by Sotheby's Fine American Indian Art division in New York and later that year became part of the Eugene and Clare Thaw Collection of American Indian Art of the Fenimore Art Museum.
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (2000). Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World. Cooperstown, NY: George Braziller in association with the New York State Historical Association. p. 13. ISBN 0-8076-1465-3.
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (2000). Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World. Cooperstown, New York: George Braziller in association with the New York State Historical Association. p. 25. ISBN 0-8076-1465-3.
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (1996). Plains Indian Drawings: 1865-1935. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 188. ISBN 0-8109-3742-5.
- University of California, San Diego (n.d.), Plains Indian Ledger Art | Black Hawk Ledger, retrieved 19 April 2011
- "Native American Myths". www.livingmyths.com. Retrieved 2017-03-16.
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (2000). Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World. Cooperstown, New York: George Braziller in association with the New York State Historical Association. p. 14. ISBN 0-8076-1465-3.
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (2000). Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World. Cooperstown, New York: George Braziller in association with the New York State Historical Association. p. 26. ISBN 0-8076-1465-3.
- Keyser, James D. (Spring 2002), "Book Review: Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World by Janet Catherine Berlo", Great Plains Quarterly, 22 (2): 132–133
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (1996). "Spirit Horses and Thunder Beings: Plains Indian Dream Drawings". Grand Street. 56: 199–208 – via JSTOR.
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (1996). "Spirit Horses and Thunder Beings: Plains Indians and Dream Drawings". Grand Street. 56: 200 – via JSTOR.
- Berlo, Janet Catherine (1996). Plains Indian Drawings: 1865-1935. New York, NY: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 70. ISBN 0-8109-3742-5.
- "T0614 Drawing Book". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 19 April 2011.