Oglala Sioux Winter Count
Appraised Value: $6,000 - $8,000
IMAGE: 1 of 4
Appraisal Video: (4:01)
GUEST: This is my great-great-uncle's Sioux winter count.
APPRAISER: And we have a picture of him here, right?
GUEST: Yes, his name was Moses Red Horse Owner.
APPRAISER: Moses Red Horse Owner?
APPRAISER: And he lived to be how old?
GUEST: He lived to be 72 years old.
APPRAISER: And when did he die?
APPRAISER: And we have here in this book some drawings. Correct?
APPRAISER: And you're calling that a "winter count."
APPRAISER: For people out there that don't know, what is a winter count?
GUEST: Well, the Sioux were a history-conscious people, and they liked to record one great event that happened during the year. The tribal elders would meet in the wintertime and sit around and tell the historian to be sure and record this in his mind.
APPRAISER: So they did one event per year. Correct?
APPRAISER: So, in a sense, this is like a calendar.
GUEST: A calendar, yes.
APPRAISER: Because there was no written language, correct?
APPRAISER: Well, what I find fascinating about this is how your family has kept the history through the ages. Here we have the drawings that your great-great-uncle did. And there are three pages, starting from about 1802 right up into the early 20th century. And we have in the book close to you, some language in Sioux. Is that correct?
APPRAISER: In Oglala?
APPRAISER: And who did that?
GUEST: My aunt and my mom, and they were little girls when they used to ask him about what he was drawing.
APPRAISER: And then they did a copy here, is that correct?
GUEST: On a skin, yes.
APPRAISER: This is a 1935 rendition of these original drawings we're looking at here.
APPRAISER: And I think this is terrific-- your family published this book, is that correct?
APPRAISER: In what year?
APPRAISER: Well, what we have here, if we can refer.... in the year 1847... it would have been written in that book in the 1960s, the literal translation. And if we look here, it says in 1847, "Many broke their legs that winter."
APPRAISER: So that would have been the event remembering... A number of years later... Perhaps it was a very icy winter-- there would have been a reason why many people broke their legs. It says in 1852, "The snow was deep. A man sneaked in and they killed him."
APPRAISER: So maybe one of their enemies.
APPRAISER: This is terrific-- not only the fact that this is the history here but successive generations of your family have kept this, and not only kept it but added to it.
APPRAISER: Well, the value of this in terms of economics is not so much money. If you were to sell this-- and I can't imagine you ever would, but if you were-- the value would be somewhere in the neighborhood of $6,000, maybe $8,000, mostly for these glyphs and images. Large winter counts are on buffalo hide or perhaps on muslin. My gallery sold one on muslin from the Oglala for about $100,000 two years ago. If we would have had your great-great-uncle's drawings on a robe or a muslin-- and I'm guessing that there may have been one in the 19th century-- it would have sold for as much as the one we sold in our gallery for over $100,000. But the one we sold was 19th century, the same vintage as these drawings.
GUEST: Oh, I see.
APPRAISER: Not from the 1930s, which was what your family did to show what it originally would have looked like. But again, the amazing thing about this is how you and your family have kept this up. I applaud you for doing this.
GUEST: Thank you.
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