The Winter Count
Battiste Good (1821-ca. 1907)
[Winter Count, 1230-1907]
Pictograph watercolor on
paper panels, ca. 1907
A "winter count" was a Native American mnemonic device passed from
one generation to another marked with pictographs that recorded
noteworthy events in tribal life that took place each "winter" or
year. Battiste Good, a Brulé Dakota living at the Rosebud
Agency in South Dakota, probably made this winter count at the turn
of the twentieth century based on original records kept on hides
(he introduced Arabic numerals). Special characters denoted famines,
the introduction of the horse, buffalo hunts, severe winter storms,
smallpox epidemics, and other significant events.
Pictured is Chief High Hawk, Battiste Good's son, and who presumably
finished the "winter count" after Good's death.