Montana artist taking the past and making modern art - KFBB.com News, Sports and Weather

Montana artist taking the past and making modern art

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Ledger art is called a "Warriors Art" among Native American tribes from the plains, because notable people like Sitting Bull used it as a way to keep records of war deeds. 

For local artist John Isaiah Pepion, it's much more personal.

 "Ledger art is a form of expression that is over 100 years old and there are several periods. It got its start in Fort Marion, which is an old Spanish fort in Augustine Florida in the 1880s," said Pepion. 

He uses authentic old ledgers for his artwork. He added that it is a way to bring history and modern times together.

"It has allowed me to tell my story and our story as indigenous people, rather than museums or institutions telling the world who we are. I'm able to tell the world who we are," said Pepion.  

Some of those stories are like those of missing and murdered indigenous women, like Blackfoot women Misty Upham, who was found murdered in Seattle a few years ago, and Ashley Loring HeavyRunner, who is still missing. 

"My family knew Ashley. She used to come over to my mom's and when she went missing I couldn't believe it. I come from a family of winter count artists, so to me it's like carrying on a family tradition but also just telling a story," said Pepion.

Now he's expanding how his art is reaching others by taking a modern twist.

First, he has collaborated with a Montana fashion designer living in L.A named Bethany Yellowtail. Together they have created ledger art silk scarves, but his art is also now on phone cases. He said it is important people see inspired Native-made art instead of "Native inspired" art.

Click here to see the B. Yellowtail store and more of the Native-designed fashion and art.

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