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Ledger Painting of Indians Stealing Military Horses / Virginia Stroud

Essay/Description

In Ledger Painting of Indians Stealing Military Horses, Virginia Stroud (Cherokee [United Keetoowah Band], Muscogee) depicts specific warriors on a coup raid to collect horses and other trophies from an invading colonial military group.

This painting diverges from long-standing ledger art practices in that Stroud did not represent herself in the composition, nor is she recording her own lived experiences; rather, she is recording the wartime coup counts of historical warriors who lived before her. Throughout the nineteenth century, the Kiowa and Comanche Nations conducted retaliatory horse raids against various invasive colonial entities including the Spanish, U.S. government troops, and others as they attempted to force racial and national borders on Indigenous ancestral territories. In this painting, four victorious warriors are heading home, and their square formation encloses three saddled horses. These were captured from the U.S. Cavalry, evident from the military brand on their hindquarters, and from the blankets, muskets, cups, and one trumpet. Each warrior is also brandishing a coup-count article, an emblem of wartime victory.

—Jordan Poorman Cocker, Henry Luce Foundation Curatorial Scholar for Indigenous Painting Collection Research, 2021

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Title(s): 
Ledger Painting of Indians Stealing Military Horses
Creator(s): 
Virginia Stroud (Artist)
Culture: 
Native American; Cherokee (United Keetoowah Band), Muscogee (Creek)
Date: 
1978
Materials/Techniques: 
tempera and colored pencil on paper
Classification: 
Object Type: 
Credit Line: 
Gift of R.E. and Mary Maxwell, Jr., Fort Worth and Houston, Texas
Accession No: 
02.1804
Previous Number(s): 
tl1994.71.n; 0227.1804; 16738
Department: 
Signed by hand in tempera, "Virginia A. Stroud (c) 1978 [Cherokee syllabary/syllabic]" in lower right on recto.
Not On View

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