family stories

the Smith Tribe

The Smith Tribe

On our recent Goin Home 2015 road trip, we had the opportunity to visit the Museum of Native American History in Springdale AR.  We all were amazed at the variety of depth of their collections, but one exhibit stood out-Lone Wolf’s winter count.


Lone Wolf Winter Count


A tanned hide acted as a tablet and each year (a year was counted from first snow to first snow) the tribe would meet and discuss the year’s events to decide what to record.  The tribal council would then meet and select a single event to be recorded on the hide with a symbol.   Usually, it was a trusted tribe member who was the scribe, and I must say I felt a certain reverence as we observed Lone Wolf’s 70 year detailed account of this tribe-his family.  (Read more about Winter Counts here >>)

close up of winter count event

close up of one of the events on the Winter Count we saw.

Aren’t family stories the same way?  All you need are a few key words and the laughter and chatter begins-tellling and retelling stories from our childhood. treasures the stories of our ancestors-it reminds us of how blessed we are to have had good parents, who tried to do just a little better than their parents, etc. etc.  Ask the eldest member of your clan about their favorite dresses, favorite subject in school, first kiss..

Visiting with our dad’s brother on the Goin Home 2015 trip-we laughed until we cried as he recounted beating our mother in a spelling bee-which catapulted him to State.  When asked how he did at the State competition-he said his knees were still sore from knocking so much due to nerves.  He still remembers that word that did him in and put him in second place:  mackerel.

With all the high-tech gadgets available, we don’t need to rely on one faithful scribe to record a singular incident to preserve family stories.  Most of us have in our purse the capability of recording, photographing and videoing the story tellers in our families.  Stories deepen the love we have for those before us, and stories bind our children’s hearts to their ancestors, and to us.