National Park Service: Junior Ranger Online - Create Your Own Winter Count

Winter counts are records of history for many American Indian tribes.

Northern Plains tribes used winter counts extensively. A year typically went from the first snowfall to the next year’s first snowfall. Elders would come together and discuss things that happened throughout the year. They would choose one event that was a reminder of the year, and that was the image painted as a pictograph on the hide.

The keeper of the hide had the duty to remember the stories of each year painted on the hide in order to remind the people of what had happened. This is known as an oral history. Events weren’t in a written language, each pictograph represented an event that someone recounted and passed down.

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