Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Revisiting The John K. Bear Winter Count

Drifting Goose, chief of the Húŋkpatina, a winter count keeper, along with his people were placed onto the Crow Creek Indian Reservation. 
The Drifting Goose Winter Count
John K. Bear Winter Count Revisited

By Dakota Wind
In 1976, James H. Howard published his Yanktonai Ethnohistory And The John K. Bear Winter Count in the Plains Anthropologist. Howard counseled with native informants from native communities in South Dakota. The strength of his work is determined by two things: his informants and his scholarly research. Howard genuinely cared for the subject and people he wrote about.

There are a few things which must be revisited in Howard’s work: the arrival of the horse is one. This is important because it establishes the earliest record of the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (the Great Sioux Nation) encounter with the horse, its location, which places the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (the Yanktonai) at the mouth of the Čhaŋsáŋsaŋ Wakpá (the James River), and a date of 1692.

A few things must be re-interpreted. An example is the 1841 entry regarding Thamína Wé (His Bloody Knife). Howard calls this record an “anomaly,” and assumes this entry is in regard to the Arikara US Indian Scout, Bloody Knife, a friend of the infamous Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer, from whom the latter learned how to converse in Lakȟóta, Sahnish (Arikara), and the Plains Indian Sign & Gesture language. This Bloody Knife is the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋ chief, not the Arikara scout.

I’ve employed the LLC standard orthography in this “update,” and have expanded or amended some of Howard’s entries. Howard’s general format will be used: Numerical year in the Common Era, original text, the text re-written using the LLC standard orthography, a word-for-word translation, a free interpretation, followed by cultural/historical narrative.

Some biographical information about Maǧá Bobdú (Drifting Goose) can be found at American-Tribes.com. Go visit this website for its great forum on the subject of American Indian history and culture.


Download the PDF document of "Revisiting The John K. Bear Winter Count." 

For whatever odd reason, the citations didn't carry over when I converted the doc to PDF. Please contact me if you'd like a copy of the original document. 

Dakota Wind is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He is currently a university student working on a degree in History with a focus on American Indian and Western History. He maintains the history website The First Scout.