The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian
Winter counts—pictorial calendars by which Plains Indians kept track of their past—marked each year with a picture of a memorable event. The Lakota, or Western Sioux, recorded many different events in their winter counts, but all include “the year the stars fell,” the spectacular Leonid meteor shower of 1833–34. This volume is an unprecedented assemblage of information on the important collection of Lakota winter counts at the Smithsonian, a core resource for the study of Lakota history and culture. Fourteen winter counts are presented in detail, with a chapter devoted to the newly discovered Rosebud Winter Count. Together these counts constitute a visual chronicle of over two hundred years of Lakota experience as recorded by Native historians.
A visually stunning book, The Year the Stars Fell features full-color illustrations of the fourteen winter counts plus more than 900 detailed images of individual pictographs. Explanations, provided by their nineteenth-century Lakota recorders, are arranged chronologically to facilitate comparison among counts. The book provides ready access to primary source material, and serves as an essential reference work for scholars as well as an invaluable historical resource for Native communities.