Artist to present history, ledger art workshop at Pipestone Monument

PHOTO COURTESY OF PIPESTONE NATIONAL MONUMENT The history of ledger art and George Levi’s traditional ledger art, seen here, will be the focus of an April 18 presentation at Pipestone National Monument.
By : 
Lisa Brainard
Journey vs Destination

Pipestone National Monument, at the town of Pipestone in southwestern Minnesota, has some worthwhile activities coming up this spring. Let’s take a look.

Ledger art

The first guest speaker of the 2019 speaker series at Pipestone National Monument visitor center, George Curtis Levi, will hold a workshop on ledger art Thursday, April 18, from 6 to 7:30 p.m.

Levi is a member of the Southern Cheyenne Tribe of Oklahoma. He is also Southern Arapaho. He was raised in western Oklahoma communities. The art and history of the Cheyenne people motivate him in his art, with influences by Cheyenne and Arapaho artists of the past.

He specializes in Cheyenne style ledger art, acrylic and watercolor paintings, and also custom beadwork and parfleche work. His art is well known and can be found in various museums, art exhibits, galleries, and private collections in the United States and around the world.

The program will consist of a presentation on the history of ledger art followed by a workshop. Audience members will get a chance to make their own ledger art and do a block print workshop with ledger art block prints. The program will end with the opportunity for audience members to ask questions. This event is free and open to the public. Supplies will be provided.

Directions are available through this link: For additional information on this program and others, as well as the monument itself, contact Pipestone National Monument at 507-825-5464, or visit its Facebook page or website, respectively, at or

To learn more about ledger art, I found this website interesting, Account books, or ledgers, provided paper as a new source on which Native Americans could create artwork. It had often previously been created on buffalo hides before white frontiersmen and settlers over-hunted them.


On Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m. until noon, the Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) will hold a rededication ceremony for the Nicollet marker at Pipestone National Monument. The DAR recently restored the historic plaque commemorating the expedition that visited this region in 1838. The program will begin with remarks in the visitor center followed by a walk on the Circle Trail to view the marker. Refreshments will be provided by the DAR.

The evening before this event – on Friday, May 10 – Dr. Charles E. Umbanhowar Jr., of St. Olaf College in Northfield, will speak from 6:30 to 7 p.m. in the monument’s visitor center auditorium about the importance of the Nicollet expedition for understanding American Indian culture and history. Both events are free and open to the public.

Joseph Nicolas Nicollet (1786-1843) was a French geographer, mathematician and astronomer, best known for mapping the Upper Mississippi River basin. He and 15 others visited the Pipestone quarry during his second of three journeys to the region. The group camped at the quarry for seven nights from June 29 to July 6, 1838. Some of their names are carved into the quartzite near Leaping Rock. The DAR installed a commemorative marker next to that spot in September 1925.

Nicollet showed great respect for the American Indian peoples and nations he encountered, although his expeditions and the others that followed facilitated the increasing westward expansion, leading to untold hardship for Native peoples.

“We invite the public to join the National Park Service in reflecting on this complex aspect of the region’s history,” said Monument Superintendent Lauren Blacik.

The DAR has had a pivotal role in creating the monument and installing, maintaining, and recently restoring the historic bronze plaque. They purchased the title to the land around the Three Maidens in an effort to protect these granite boulders.

According to Faye Leach, the Regent of the Minnesota State Society DAR, “Records show they named their chapter the Catlinite Chapter as they hoped to aid in preserving the relics and traditions of the region.”

To learn more on George Catlin’s ties to the pipestone quarries at what would later become Pipestone National Monument, go to As a side note, Catlin provides a nice connection for my interests of frontier history and geology. I’ve visited Pipestone once and was surprised to learn all this and more. It would certainly be great to get back there this spring.

Lisa Brainard still enjoys lifelong pursuits of the outdoors, history and travel as able following a serious accident and stroke in September 2012. She’s written this column weekly for over 15 years.