Ledger Art: Darryl Growing Thunder

This particular piece features five Sioux maidens in their traditional "Sioux Blue" regalia. Each design represents a distinction between bands. Darryl's artwork appears on original merchant's ledger paper from 1872 and is mounted on acid free backing.

The drawing "Sioux Blioux" is a depiction of the love of blue beads Dakota women had when they created their beaded dresses. The creation stories represented on these dresses, blue represents the water or the lake in which, the earth was created as a turtle emerging from the edges of the lake. Also reflected in the water are the clouds and stars of the sky.


click pic for close-up


"Sioux Blioux"
10 x 15 Ledger Art
(framed 20 x 24)

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Darryl Growing Thunder, Assiniboine-Sioux, is an award wining ledger artist from the Fort Peck Indian reservation in Montana.

He is also the son of acclaimed beadwork and quillwork artist, Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty.

Together with his extended family, including his talented wife, Ramey (who is also a bead artist), Darryl shows each year at the Santa Fe Indian Market. He has won numerous ribbons for his work, including several for first place, and he almost always sells out.

A few of Darryl's influences include George Flett, Dwayne Wilcox, and Donald Montileaux.

Artist Statement:

Growing up as a member of the Assiniboine and Sioux from the Fort Peck Reservation, and a descendant of the Suquamish Tribe of Washington, I have always been surrounded by art. You could say it was a way of life, whether it was the astounding bead or quillwork created by my mother Joyce Growing Thunder Fogarty or the ease in which my father Jim Fogarty put paint to canvas in his paintings of Western and American Indian heritage. My mother and my sister, Juanita would sit for hours working their fingers to thick calluses and needle pricks as they transformed porcupine quills, beads and brain tanned buckskin into War shirts, Pipe bags, pad saddles or moccasins. Now it is my wife Ramey, also from the Fort Peck Reservation, who shares in the hope of preserving our unique style of art on the Fort Peck Reservation.

It is from this passion, dedication and immersion in Assiniboine and Sioux art that has enabled me to produce a style of art that was originally developed around the turn of the century. "Ledger" account books and records were adapted to replace the once abundant hides that were used to record deeds accomplished on the battle field, ceremonial events, or daily life including hunting and courtships.

It is my goal and ambition that this style of "ledger art "continues to pay tribute to the perseverance of my ancestors who adapted and created works of art during a period of life changing turmoil and injustice. It is through our art that we as Indigenous people can maintain our identity and pass this identity down to generations to come.

About the Art:

Ledger art derives from a tradition that used pictographic codes to keep historical records and serve as mnemonic reminders for storytelling. The pictographs were originally inscribed on rocks and painted on buffalo robes, shields, lodges, and tipis. Warriors painted their historic deeds on their buffalo robes and tipis to designate their positions in the tribe. When U. S. fur companies, settlers, and cavalry destroyed the buffalo herd, the warriors turned to ledger books with balance sheets used to record white profits made from Indian losses.

Soon the warrior-artists started to record council scenes and scenes from daily life on ledger pages to grapple with and interpret their changing condition. The resulting layering reflects the complicated dynamics of Indians going through various stages of traumatic historical change, attempting to preserve their history, resist white authority and power, negotiate tribal and individual identity, and, as the tradition has been adapted by contemporary artists, make political statements.

The most remarkable and important ledger books were produced by Plains Indian warriors imprisoned in Fort Marion Plains Indian warriors imprisoned in Fort Marion in St. Augustine, Florida, from 1875 to 1878.

Modern artists continue to perpetuate ledger art as a fine art form, capturing and reconnecting with the past through traditional and contemporary mediums.

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