Monday, July 19, 2010

Winter counts

One of the Lakota art forms that has fascinated me is the Winter count - a pictorial rendering of the tribes most important events.
Done on tanned hides with 'ink' from berries and, therefore, limited color, these images captured the life of the tribe by taking a single event to characterize a whole year.

A new exhibit at the museum devoted a whole room to them; it was wonderful to see them 'in person' rather than pictures of them in books.

Some of the earlier counts didn't reference the system of time keeping or dating that the European invaders used at all...
time, as we've learned, is VERY relative on the reservation! (I LOVE it - and fit right in.)

Others adapted the 'year'...

and archivists have interviewed people who provided oral interpretations of the symbols.

One that captured my attention was 1857: Good Honor Woman had a child without a father. First time this happened.

It made me terribly sad to realize how much their society - and ours - has changed in a relatively short period of time.

It also made me wonder, if I had only ONE event per year, what images I would use to characterize MY personal winter counts.


dizzy said...

Are there any books that contain these? Fascinating!

Donna said...

Yes, I have a two volume set; let me know if you're interested in borrowing them!

dizzy said...

Thanks. Sounds like good cool weather reading,