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The Dog Soldier Ledger Book: Art as a Source for Indian History


with Richard Ellis

author and history professor (retired)

The Dog Soldier ledger book was picked up on the Summit Springs battlefield in 1969. It provides a history of the Cheyenne Dog Soldiers between the Sand Creek Massacre in 1864 and Summit Springs in 1869. Cheyenne people assisted in identifying its artists (the book is the work of multiple artists), individual subjects, and rendered events. Thus the publication of the ledger book draws on both Cheyenne oral history and archival research. Cheyenne mixed blood George Bent expressed the wish that a photographer had been able to capture the Dog Soldiers in all their glory, but the ledger book provides a worthy substitute for photography. It provides so accurate and detailed an account of Dog Soldier history that one can identify weapons and uniform items used by soldiers, including Smith carbines and Colt revolving carbines. That evidence, combined with research in military records, allows the identification of U.S. military units and specific events. This program uses slides or PowerPoint.