Elk Medicine Called Us Together

Designed on an Index to Real Estate Mortgages-Mortgagors-Chouteau County Montana ledger 1900’s with colored pencils and ink in the 1800’s plains ledger art style.

This courtship piece is trimmed in geometric parfleche designs and traditional Apsáalooke (Crow) floral designs to bring female balance to the overall piece. Geometric or nonfigurative designs were normally created by females.

The theme of this ledger is the coming together of a young Crow couple as they prepare for their journey through life. Surrounded in a circle of pink represents the Universe and love.  It is highlighted in a blue aura representing sacredness.

The title “Elk Medicine Called Us Together” is illustrated above by a bull elk bugling, calling his love across the meadow. In some tribal customs, Elk medicine references love.

The Crow Nation, also called Apsaalooké or Biiluuke, has lived in Crow Country, around the base of the sacred Big Horn Mountains, from time immemorial.  The Crow Nation, traditionally was organized into three bands, the Mountain Crow, River Crow, and the Kick in the Bellies.  

The Apsaalooké chiefs entered into their first treaty, a friendship treaty, with the United States in 1825.  In 1851, Crow Nation entered into the first Fort Laramie Treaty allocating 33 million acres of land to the Crow people. That land was located in the Montana, Wyoming, and Dakota Territories.  The second Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868 reduced the Crow Indian Reservation to eight million acres in South-Central Montana Territory”. (Official Crow Nation site)

Ledger Art explained- Traditional plains ledger art was a male figurative expression on a foreign 2- dimensional surface, introduced by an invading peoples during the clash of cultures and Western Expansion.  On these documents, warriors would illustrate their great feats or memorable events they witnessed in their life, leaving behind a record of who they were for future generations. This visual pictographic form earmarked an era of uncertainty for indigenous tribes as the Native people’s subsistence (buffalo) was exterminated to near extinction, they were relocated to reservations and subjugated. Although ledger art and figurative drawing traditionally was male oriented, females painted geometric abstract designs on parfleche boxes and envelopes. Spiritually, males drew figurative images because they could only imitate life where females had the gift of life.