Book Reviews of Sioux Winter Count.

1. "There is a treasure in the Sioux Museum in Rapid City, North Dakota! Probably well known to the Sioux Nation, this well done, researched book opens knowledge to a much wider audience. Winter Counts were the means by which Native Americans of the Dakota Sioux tribe recorded their history. The Dakota language, spoken, is not of the written variety. And there was a chief historian, whose responsibility was to record the most important event when the particular time of the season came as well as undertaking the painstaking task of redoing all of the symbols when the animal skin wore out, or when one needed a duplication.

"Thanks to the efforts of the author, translator, and illustrator we have accompanying literature to try to explain to others outside the tribal organization what happened between 1796 to 1926, the skin being known as the Big Missouri Count.

"Such a book would be an important purchase for anyone interested in Native American subjects. Appendices include descriptions of other winter counts, pictorial patterns most likely encountered, pictographs, brief but adequate information of the Dakota Nation and a sizable bibliography of titles for further research." (Chuck Hamsa, Reviewers Consortium, Nov. 18, 1999)

2. "Following the traditional interpretation by a Sioux medicine man (Kills Two) a parallel history of westward expansion into the Dakotas, and of government Native American policies, gives the reader an eagle's eye view of the Sioux experience during those critical years in the life of America. Sioux Winter Count is a superb, unique contribution to the growing body of Native American cultural and historical literature." (James A. Cox, The Midwest Book Review)

3. Sioux Winter Count: A 131-Year Calendar of Events by Roberta Carkeek Cheney. Traditional Interpretation by Kills Two. Illustrations by Ralph Shane. Happy Camp, CA: Naturegraph Publishers, Inc. Paper, 64pp. $8.95: ISBN Number 0-87961-249-5

... Examples of such things or events recorded were deaths of tribal chiefs, plagues, the arrival of particular white men, deaths of non-Dakota warriors who attempted to sneak into camp as well as natural happenings, such as the eclipse of the sun. Whenever possible the author filled in what was happening outside tribal grounds that would have an effect upon the Dakota Nation.

Some symbols made reference to disasters, such as a Swiss-cheese appearing head, signifying the horrible small pox epidemic of 1819, which caused the death of a great many people, or the simple but far reaching picture of a flag on a pole, telling how a great many young Indian men had joined the U.S. Army to fight in World War I in 1918. In 1924 the picture of a buffalo made reference to a feast held to honor Ralph H. Case, attorney for the Sioux. And, the author added that the same year all Indians had been declared citizens by act of Congress. In 1921 there is a sad picture of two Indian boys wearing black hats. It appears that they ran away from an Indian boarding school during the winter. And they both froze to death. ...

Reviewed by Chuck Hamsa Whispering Wind / vol. 34 #5, 2005