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History 605: S2, Ep7, 'The Night the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts'

The Year the Stars Fell
Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian

This podcast is produced by the South Dakota State Historical Society.

To support the state historical society, contact the foundation at (605) 773-6346

How can we know what happened in the past? Historians use a wide variety of sources in order to answer that question. But how do we know what happened when there was no written language?

One way the Lakota kept their history was with Winter Counts, an annual pictographic record of the year’s most unique event. In this episode, we talk to Christina Burke and Tipiziwin Tolman who work with Lakota Winter Counts and discuss how to understand them, the role the Winter Count Keepers played in the Lakota traditions, and Winter Count creation for the future of Lakota culture and history.

The discussion got a bit emotional at the end when I realized how these two guests opened up a whole new future for one another - and us as well.

For more explanation of the Lakota Winter Counts, I recommend: The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian edited by Candace S. Greene and Russell Thornton.