Historically, Plains warriors chronicled the heroic lives of great warriors and chiefs by depicting their experiences of war, hunting, religious ceremony, and courtship on rock, buffalo (American bison) hides, robes, and tipis.
From the early 1860s through the 1880s, Western expansion brought a steady stream of settlers, entrepreneurs, and soldiers to the Plains region. Plains warrior-artists acquired record-keeping books, called ledgers, as well as muslin, ink, pencils, colored pencils, notebooks, and sketchbooks from European Americans. The drawing style, or conventions, used for hide painting were carried over into these new drawing materials.
Ledger drawings commonly feature a single figure in full regalia, displaying himself before an adversary. The physical setting is usually not represented because the scene was understood to be in the Plains. Scale, or the relative size of figures and objects, was also not as important as the story, which typically moved across the page from right to left.
Ledger artists in the late nineteenth century drew both nostalgic scenes of pre-reservation life and images of the cultural changes they experienced. Later drawings continued to serve as personal narratives, but during the reservation era they also served as a form of resistance to Western expansion and cultural dominance by preserving Native American history and cultural identity.