The year the stars fell: Lakota Winter Counts
April 26, 2005 7:47 AM   Subscribe

Lakota Winter Counts. Lakota and other plains tribes counted time by winters. An appointed recorder would choose one major event to mark the year, depicting that event by name and symbol. Early records dating back to the 10th century were often painted on buffalo skins; more recent winter counts were recorded as text journals. These fascinating records offer insight into natural and historic events for our land that precede accounts of European settlers. - more -
posted by madamjujujive (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The Buechel Lakota Memorial Museum holds 8 representational wintercounts and 16 text wintercounts.

The Carnegie Winter Count by Thomas Red Owl Haukaas depicts social and political events that have affected the lives of Lakota people up to the present day.

Meteors and the Native Americans - The Year the Stars Fell is perhaps the most well known winter count name, recording the Leonid meteor shower of 1833.
posted by madamjujujive at 7:49 AM on April 26, 2005

Fascinating. Thanks.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:57 AM on April 26, 2005

Way cool.

Here's another.
posted by COBRA! at 8:10 AM on April 26, 2005

This is great. It reminds me of the way my lita used to tell us stories. She would always tell us about the weather that year. It might be 1930 she was talking about, but it would be that really dry year, no fruit. Sometimes years would be a new car, or the year we moved to New York, or the year her sister got married. Much more real to her and to us than numbers on a calendar.

Thanks, madamjujujive. I love thinking about my lita. You just made my day much better.
posted by breezeway at 8:18 AM on April 26, 2005 [1 favorite]

What a wonderful thing to post. I was really touched by some of these. Others were just beautiful to look at.

In the Slavic world time used to be counted in summers(You still find traces in most Slavic languages when referring to blocks of time). I've seen illustrations of events in chronicles, but these are really unique. Thanks. I really love hearing about things like this.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 10:35 AM on April 26, 2005

*hugs madamjjj*
posted by matteo at 10:39 AM on April 26, 2005

Great post.
posted by homunculus at 10:49 AM on April 26, 2005

and I thought they were only known for their great pain medicine!
posted by imaswinger at 12:07 PM on April 26, 2005

Lovely stuff, and fascinating; thanks mjjj!
posted by carter at 1:20 PM on April 26, 2005

The Anglo-Saxons measured their years in winters too.
posted by MrMerlot at 3:32 PM on April 26, 2005

This was fascinating, thanks for the link. This way of describing the passage of years reminds me of some things I've read about how natives described rivers - not by actual absolute distances, but in terms of the significant features like branchings, waterfalls, and so forth.

It's easy to see this is a different way of thinking from the "western", but it's really not, is it?
posted by freebird at 5:40 PM on April 26, 2005

Very interesting ! Much thanks !
posted by mikeinclifton at 10:21 PM on April 26, 2005

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