American Treasures of the Library of Congress: Memory, Exhibit Object Focus

previous objectback to exhibit casenext object

The Winter Count

Winter Count, 1230-1907
Battiste Good (1821-ca. 1907)
[Winter Count, 1230-1907]
Pictograph watercolor on
paper panels, ca. 1907
Manuscript Division

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.

previous objectback to exhibit casenext object

Library of Congress
Contact Us ( July 27, 2010 )
Legal | External Link Disclaimer