Black Hawk (artist)

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Black Hawk
Untitled drawing by Black Hawk depicting Lakota dancers
Born ca. 1832
Died ca. 1890
Nationality Sans Arc Lakota
Education Traditional
Known for Ledger art
Movement Ledger art
Patron(s) William Edward Caton
Black Hawk's portrayal of a Heyókȟa, i.e. a Thunder or Spirit Being.

Black Hawk (ca. 1832–1890?) was a member of the Sans Arc or Itázipčho band of Lakota people.[1] He is best known as an artist who, in 1880–1881, produced a set of 76-color ledger drawings of Lakota life for William Edward Caton, the federal "Indian trader" at the Cheyenne River Indian Reservation. The cover of the bound volume of Black Hawk's drawings describes him as "CHIEF MEDICINE MAN OF THE SIOUX".[2] He is believed to have been killed in the Wounded Knee Massacre of 1890 but this is not certain.[1]

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.[3] 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."[2] It continues: "He had absolutely nothing, no food, and would not beg."[2] The drawings were produced in exchange for credit at Caton's store.[3]

Black Hawk received fifty cents per drawing from Caton.[1] In 1994, they were 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.[3][4]

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  1. ^ a b c Berlo, Janet Catherine (2000). Spirit Beings and Sun Dancers: Black Hawk's Vision of the Lakota World. New York, NY: George Braziller in association with the New York State Historical Association. ISBN 0-8076-1465-3. 
  2. ^ a b c University of California, San Diego (n.d.), Plains Indian Ledger Art | Black Hawk Ledger, retrieved 19 April 2011 
  3. ^ a b c 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 
  4. ^ "T0614 Drawing Book". Fenimore Art Museum. Retrieved 19 April 2011. 

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