The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian

Feb 15th, 2008 | By | Category: 19-3: Beyond Our Names: Uncovering Identity, Media Reviews

YEAR THE STARS FELL COVEREdited by Candace Greene and Russell Thornton
Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History (2007)

Review by James Thull

The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Smithsonian is a valuable contribution to the field of Native American studies. This collection of winter counts, or waniyetu wowapi in Lakota, represents nearly 200 years of self-recorded Lakota history and provides us with a visually pleasing wealth of information. The editors state their goal was to make “primary materials, both visual and verbal, easily available for study,” and in this they have succeeded.

The book is the most extensive, detailed, and well researched reference source on Lakota Winter Counts that has been published to date. The editors, Candace Greene and Russell Thornton, do an excellent job of arranging the images and provide valuable comments and notes along the way. Christina Burke’s introductory chapter on the Lakota winter count tradition and extensive bibliography add considerable value. I recommend this book for purchase by tribal, academic, and public libraries.

James Thull is a reference librarian at Montana State University and the assistant coordinator of the Tribal College Librarians Institute.

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