If you were to pick a single event from last year that would forever highlight 2013 for you and your family, what would it be?
Was your home flooded? Did you move to another town? Was there a new job? Did you have a baby? Did someone you love pass away? Was there a wedding? A divorce? A reversal of fortune?
Before written records, Plains Indians recorded one notable event for each year on a “winter count,” a kind of pictorial calendar. Each band designated a tribal member as the winter count keeper—the man charged with painting the year’s image, caring for the winter count, and making sure the oral traditions about the years’ events remained intact. Early on, keepers painted or drew illustrations on buffalo hides; when buffalo became scarce, they substituted muslin, linen, or paper—like the one pictured above—from the Buffalo Bill Center of the West’s Plains Indian Museum.
Click on the image above; can you guess what story each image tells? Let me know in your comments!
The Lakota Indians called the record a winter count since it documented a single event for the year between first snow to first snow. Some incidents even appear on more than one winter count! For instance, Smithsonian scholar Garrick Mallery, who published research in 1886 and 1893, found that “the year the stars fell” correlated to the November 1833 Leonid meteor storm.
Now that would certainly be worth remembering!