In the 18th and 19th centuries the Lakota lived on the northern plains of North America. They are closely related to the Sioux people through their language, culture, and their history. An important part of their lives was storytelling. In sharing stories with the young ones they were preserving their culture and ensuring a continuation of their people.

The Lakota were a nomadic people, meaning they followed the buffalo herds for food. In the summers they would hunt and live on the open plains and in the winter they would make camp in protected wooded areas. They did not grow crops as they never settled in one place long enough. Evidence that they traded with neighboring tribes to supplement their dietary needs is represented on the winter counts with a picture of an ear of corn.

The Lakota people were known for making winter counts. These counts were a way of recording their history or keeping calendars and were illustrated by a picture. Typically only one picture was drawn to represent a whole year. Each Lakota band had one winter count keeper who was responsible for the recounting of the history for that band. Winter counts represent a Lakota oral tradition or storytelling and history (Lakota Winter Counts: as online exhibit, 2005).

My picture is of my own attempt at a winter count. This was my first attempt at making one and I loved how easy it was to tell a story by drawing a picture. The picture is then used as a reminder of a story to be told. Of course now I have many new ideas and ways that I can make this better, but I loved learning and participating in a custom from another culture. Winter counts are an exciting way of telling about events in history and passing the knowledge on to future generations.

The Corbusier Winter Counts. 4th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology for 1882-83, pp.127-47. Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1886.

David Wade, Joanne and Barb said thanks.

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Shelley Werstroh

I live in The Pas, MB. I work as an Education Assistant and I am currently going to school full time to become a teacher. I am married and have 3 wonderful boys.

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