Turtle Island Storyteller Donald Montileaux

Don Montileaux

Don Montileaux

Ledger Art

My name is Don Montileaux. I’m an Oglala Lakota from the Pine Ridge Reservation and that’s located in South Dakota.

Basically I guess I had my formal art training here in Rapid City, South Dakota where I live currently. I have a family of three: older daughter, son and younger daughter. My youngest daughter is 18 and just got accepted into IAIA in Sante Fe, New Mexico, which is really a coup for me because that’s where I went to school and basically learned all my artwork that I use today. My wife’s name is Paulette Monitleaux. She’s the curator at the Sioux Indian Museum in Rapid City.

What Id like to talk about is my ledger art.

I feel very strongly in my presentations of ledgers because my mentor was a hide painter from Fort Peck Reservation in Montana. His name was Herman Red Elk.

Don Montileaux

Don Montileaux

So I learned the fundamental of painting hides and tanning all the way up to illustrating and finally painting them and presenting them. But every time I’d get to a show they would compare me to Herman Red Elk, which I was his student so naturally I did what he did. But historically I researched that by 1850 the buffalo were pretty much all gone from the plains and we as native people here on the northern plains had to find a new way to keep our historical records. So we turned to storekeepers and soldiers and with their discarded ledger books we maintained our history from about 1850 to 1910.

So a lot of people think this is a new form of artwork but basically it’s historically correct and something I feel without we probably would have lost more historical value in our culture than we already have.

So that’s my feelings on ledger art. I hope that you enjoy my artwork. I try to keep everything as precise as possible but being an artist I do take that artistic sense sometimes and do create something a little bit different. Thank you for listening to me and I hope I have enlightened you somewhat and I appreciate it. I thank you very much.