Youth Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) 2019

  • Dec. 11, 2019, 10:11 a.m.

Youth Waniyetu Wowapi (Winter Count) 2019

Tribal people had ways of keeping track of major events that influenced their communities and ways of life. In the Northern Plains many American Indian tribes depicted their year in a Winter Count.

Today, there are so many different events that influence tribal communities and youth. In order to understand what our tribal youth are experiencing and how we can best serve and support them, we want to bring their voices to the forefront and keep them the focus of our work.

So, as we end the current calendar year and move from 2019 to 2020, we asked a group of tribal high school freshmen to reflect on the major events of the past 2019 year, the influence of those events on them and/or their community, and what they hope for in 2020. Here are their Winter Counts:


What were some major events that you remember from 2019?

How did these 2019 events influence you and/or your community?

What do you hope for in 2020?

Name (optional)

Unpredictable weather.

I had no idea what type of clothes to wear every day.

That the whole world helps and cleans the Earth.


Going on my eighth-grade trip to Wisconsin and graduating as long as going to some great and fun summer camps. Finally, going into high school.

I am in High School now so I guess I’ll see where it will take me.

I hope I go to more summer camps and get new kinds of friends.


Losing a really close friend of mine who taught me humor even through pain, taught me what true friendship in our ROTC class, and lastly, he taught me to keep my head high even through really hard times.

It really struck me down hard because of how close I was with him and how joyful, funny and kind he was that he really made a big impact of others when he left.

That I'll become successful and help others as when he helped me to honor him.


I got all conference for football as a freshman and started my freshman year of high school.

Boosted my love for football a lot and everyone was happy.

To get better grades and to go to state for basketball and to win it all in football.


Graduating and going into high school.

I learned about new things in high school and I play more sports.

I do more things that involve basketball and I play basketball more and also try out other sports.


The Amazon rainforest burning and the meth problem in South Dakota.

A lot of people talked about these topics and it went on for a while. The Amazon burning led to almost 2 months of people talking about it and South Dakota people still talk about the Meth problem. Mainly, the tagline that Kristi Noem created, which caused a lot of discernment and worry to South Dakota people about their image as residents in South Dakota.

I hope that it is a good year and that I can be closer to success.


Going to California with my classmates. I started my freshman year at a new school with my friends.

It helped me grow better bonds with my friends.

I hope to better my community by being a better influence on my younger peers.


My biggest event would be that I currently submitted a huge project based on what our Lakota women wore long ago. Another huge one is that I had the opportunity to go to a huge summer program called Exeter Summer. I also always remember each teaching I have received from one of my elders.

They influenced me to be a better person and improve myself every day to get better.

I hope that I'll have more of a happier year, and to have everyone I love with me.


When Klay tore his ACL in the NBA Finals, When the Yankees got based because the Astros cheated, When the Raiders lost by 31 to the Jets. I hope that we are good.

Made me sad and mad.

That all my teams make the playoffs and I know all my teams will be one of my favorites.


The death of my dear grandmother.

The death of my grandmother had a huge impact on me and my family because she was like the glue that held us together and she was the kindest, sweetest and lovely human being on earth.

To be more open and to find healing.



In these tribal youth’s 2019 Winter Counts, they noted remembering individual, family, community, state, national, and world events. From losing loved ones to starting high school, our tribal youth are experiencing a number of life changing events that influence their relationships, wellbeing, and ways of knowing. They continue to hope for healing and growth for themselves and everyone around them. Thus, with the new calendar year upon us, may we all remember and carry these tribal youth’s 2019 Winter Counts in our 2020 intentions and work.


Happy Winter Solstice and Happy New Calendar Year!




Alicia Mousseau


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