Lone Dog’s Winter Count

  • Colin G. Calloway
Part of the The Bedford Series in History and Culture book series (BSHC)


Like many other native societies, American Indians often have been regarded as “people without history” before Europeans arrived to record what was going on.1 In reality, of course, all peoples, whether literate or not, devise ways of recording their history and preserving for posterity the events that give meaning to their collective lives. In oral cultures like those of the Plains Indians, the memories of the elders served as repositories of tribal histories, and songs, stories, dances, and other public performances fastened traditions in the lives of successive generations. But Indian people also made visual records of noteworthy events: Individual warriors recorded their own heroic deeds; tribal historians compiled winter counts or calendars of events significant to the community as a whole.


Meteor Shower Native Society Noteworthy Event Collective Life Mnemonic Device 
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  1. 1.
    Eric R. Wolf, Europe and the People without History (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1982).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See, for example, Garrick Mallery, “Picture-Writing of the American Indians,” 10th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1888–89 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1893), 266–328;Google Scholar
  3. James Mooney, “Calendar History of the Kiowa Indians,” 17th Annual Report of the Bureau of American Ethnology, 1895–96, part 1 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Printing Office, 1898), 129–445;Google Scholar
  4. N. A. Higgingbotham, “The Wind-Roan Bear Winter Count,” Plains Anthropologist 26 (1981), 1–42.Google Scholar
  5. 3.
    Melburn D. Thurman, “Plains Indian Winter Counts and the New Ethnohistory,” Plains Anthropologist 27 (1982), 173–75.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Roger L. Nichols, “Backdrop for Disaster: Causes of the Arikara War of 1823,” South Dakota History 14 (Summer 1984), 93–113, discusses these events.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    At the Treaty of Fort Laramie in 1851, the tribes of the northern plains agreed to refrain from hostilities against their neighbors and to recognize boundaries between tribal lands established by the United States. The truce between the Sioux and the Crows did not last. See Kingsley M. Bray, “Lone Horn’s Peace: A New View of Sioux-Crow Relations,” Nebraska History 66 (Spring 1985), 28–47.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© BEDFORD BOOKS of St. Martin’s Press 1996

Authors and Affiliations

  • Colin G. Calloway
    • 1
  1. 1.Dartmouth CollegeUSA

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