Winter Count

Press Release:

Delphine Red Shirt, PhD, will visit the Gordon and Rushville area to celebrate an historical and familial piece of history. On Friday, October 14th, Red Shirt is scheduled to speak at the Gordon-Rushville High School at 1 pm.  The general public is welcome to attend. 

Following the GRHS convocation, Red Shirt will visit the Armstrong House Museum in Rushville and formally receive the Red Shirt family winter count that was re-discovered at the museum a year ago. According to Phyllis Krotz, a volunteer at the museum, “it was quite the surprise as we were transferring over files to a new filing cabinet and found a small book in an envelope. When I saw the images inside, I knew it was special.” At that point, both Krotz and Jerry Wellnitz, the curator, consulted Broc Anderson from Kearney, who was doing research in Rushville for his master’s thesis. As a graduate student at the time through the University of Nebraska at Kearney, Anderson then took on a role in researching the winter count. “When Phyllis and Jerry reached out to me, I could not believe this incredible piece of history at their museum. I knew I wanted to be involved.” Over the course of a year, Anderson, Krotz, and Wellnitz continued discussing the best course of action for such an important piece of local Native American history. Then Anderson discovered and met with Delphine Red Shirt who had no idea of its existence. 

The winter count is in a small pocket calendar from the late nineteenth century in which Delphine’s grandfather, the leader Red Shirt, drew scenes and icons depicting the history of his family and people for the years between 1701 and 1923.  The winter count was donated to the museum by Winnie Red Shirt, Delphine’s mother.  Once returned to Delphine, the Red Shirt family plans to donate it to the Beineck Library at Yale University.  The staff at Beinecke Library will then preserve and digitize the winter count and make it available on their digital collections page so that folks around the world, and in Sheridan County, may have access to it. Not only will this serve as a great learning opportunity for staff and students at Yale, but this important artifact will be far more accessible to historians and researchers around the globe.  

Red Shirt, originally from Gordon, is currently a lecturer in Decolonized History and the Lakota language at Stanford University. She served as a United States Marine, chaired the United Nations NGO Committee on the International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, and served as the United Nations Representative for the Four Directions Council: International Indigenous Organization. She has been a visiting lecturer at Yale University, Connecticut College, and Wayne State University. Following this year at Stanford, Red Shirt plans to retire and move to New Haven, Connecticut where she will continue researching the winter count as it adds roughly twenty more years not known by experts around the world.

Red Shirt is also the author of three books: Bead On An Anthill: A Lakota ChildhoodTurtle Lung Woman’s Granddaughter, and most recently, George Sword’s Warrior Narratives, which was awarded the Labriola Center American Indian National Book Award from Arizona State University and the 2017 Electa Quinney Award for Published Stories from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. These books are available at the Rushville, Gordon and Hay Springs libraries.