Read ‘Winter Counts’ — A Lakota Thriller

Read ‘Winter Counts’ — A Lakota Thriller

Posted By BrittanyLCerny August 10th, 2021 Last Updated on: September 22nd, 2021

Now that summer is winding down, it's time to pass that beach book along to a friend and pick up something with more substance. If you’re eyeing something more informative, thrilling, and poignant, then “Winter Counts” needs to be added to your “must-read” list ASAP.


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Here is a brief summary of the award-winning book. 

“Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Indian Reservation in South Dakota.  When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way into the reservation and finds Virgil’s own nephew, his vigilantism suddenly becomes personal. He enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend and sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and make them stop.

They follow a lead to Denver and find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances.  And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity. He realizes that being a Native American in the 21st century comes at an incredible cost.

Image Credit / David Weiden

David Heska Wanbli Weiden is the Lakota author of “Winter Counts,” which was published in 2020, has won many awards for his work. 

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These include:

  • Winner of the Barry Award for Best First Novel
  • Winner of the Thriller Award for Best First Novel
  • Winner of the Spur Awards for Best Contemporary Novel and Best First Novel
  • Winner of the Lefty Award for Best Debut Mystery Novel
  • Winner of the Tillie Olsen Award for Creative Writing

“Winter Counts” was also rated as the best book of 2020 by the following: Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, NPR, Amazon, Sun-Sentinel, BOLO Books, Deadly Pleasures, CrimeReads, LitReactor, The Buzz, SheReads, Tribal College Journal, Air Mail, MysteryPeople, Goodreads

Weiden is not only a proud Native, but he is also a professor of Native American Studies and Criminal Law at Metropolitan State University, which has helped him with the historical aspects of the book.

PowWows.com Interview of David Heska Weiden

This isn’t Weiden’s first published book focusing on Native America. 

The biography for young readers, “Spotted Tail,” was published in 2019 and was named as one of the best books of 2019 by American Indians in Children's Literature. Chief Spotted Tail is a famous Lakota leader from the past who did influential things for Indigenous people during a difficult time. 

What is next for Weiden? We’ll have to follow him and wait to see. 

Purchase “Winter Counts” on Amazon or at Barnes and Noble and begin reading. 

Follow David Heska Wanbli Weiden on Instagram and Twitter today! And check out his website: DavidWeiden.com.

Did you know that “Winter Counts” refers to a calendar system used by the Lakota?

Watch a brief clip from experts at the Smithsonian, who describe the Lakota tradition of recording events.




Home » Native American Articles » Native American Culture » Read ‘Winter Counts' — A Lakota Thriller

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Running Doe

osiyo for sharing love the beat of the drums helps heal earth mother, and the singing, wado for sharing,

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