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.