Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Painting An Umbrella

The Black Warbonnet pattern is rendered in contemporary colors on an umbrella.
Painting An Umbrella
A Provision For Shade Or Privacy
By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND (TFS): In the late 1800s, and early 1900s, the umbrella or parasol was a valued item. Lakota-Dakota men and women obtained one to provide shade in the semi-arid environment of Makȟóčhe Wašté (The Beautiful Country; The Great Plains). Men and women took their shade with them to the wačhípi (pow-wow; dances), when they went visiting friends and relatives. Young single men and women used them to provide shade and privacy when they wanted to exchange a private word in the public village setting. 

This is about the half-way point. It was quite challenging to stay motivated.

The Lakȟóta call the umbrella, or parasol “Aóhaŋziya” (to cause shadow to fall upon somebody). The New Lakota Dictionary lists umbrella as “Íyohaŋzi.” The Williamson Dakota Dictionary entry for umbrella is “O’haŋzihdepi.” The Buechel Lakota Dictionary entry for the canvas of a covered wagon as “Oiyohaŋzi.” 

Each additional track of the pattern took twice as long as the previous. I used a string as a compass to keep the pattern balanced and uniform as best I could.

Before the umbrella was a trade item, the Lakȟóta carried a tree limb with green leaves still attached, to provide shade for themselves on the hottest and brightest of days. 

The pattern along the edge of the umbrella is one that would typically be seen on tipi liners.

The 2nd Edition of the New Lakota Dictionary lists a solar eclipse as “Aóhaŋziya,” and perhaps that is what some Lakȟóta speakers call it. The Húŋkpapȟa, however, called the solar eclipse “Maȟpíya Yapȟéta,” which means “Cloud On Fire.”

I am thinking of painting at least a few more umbrellas. Maybe a little smaller in size. This umbrella measured 60" across. I'll add a few finishing touches like nickle bells at the ends of each rib, and a few ribbon streamers from the spike. My youngest sister has offered to bead the spike in matching colors. The painting took about ninety hours to complete.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

A Review, Red Cloud, A Lakota Story of War and Surrender

A Review, Red Cloud 
A Story Of War And Surrender
By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND (TFS) – “I was born a Lakota and I have lived as a Lakota and I shall die a Lakota,” said Red Cloud. So opens S.D. Nelson’s Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender, a first-person narrative of the Lakȟóta leader Maȟpíya Lúta, Red Cloud, and the history of his people before his birth, through his life, and death in the confines of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in what became South Dakota.

Similar to Nelson’s Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People, Nelson tells this story by rendering a beautifully and fully realized world in the historic Plains Indian style of art reproduced here as though on a ledger book.

Red Cloud’s story breaks down the complexity of inter-tribal conflict, and the great struggle for resources and tribal sovereignty on Makȟóčhe Wašté, the Beautiful Country (Great Plains; North America). The two Fort Laramie Treaties are touched on, an agreement between nations, and how both were broken by the United States.

Red Cloud’s War is retold with this new pictography, and first-person narrative. The evolution of Plains Indian warfare grows from personal conflict and honor to organized military strategy. Red Cloud’s War is one of the wars the United States lost, a concession of the war was that the Lakȟóta shut down the Bozeman Trail and retain control of Powder River Country, but this was short-lived.

The decision for Red Cloud to sign the 1868 Fort Laramie must have caused a great internal struggle for the Lakȟóta leader and the people who followed him. The first-person narrative captures this struggle, “For the sake of my own people, those who followed, me, I accepted and signed the new treaty papers. But of course I did not represent the desire of all the people. Opinions were divided.”

The story of Red Cloud is taken up to his death, followed by a reflection on the journey of his people. Red Cloud’s story isn’t finished because his life came to an end, his story continues because his people continue.

There are books that deserve to be taken apart, but Nelson’s book literally deserves to be taken apart if only to frame the pages. Such pages are 4 (men astride their horses in water), 16 (meeting at Fort Laramie in 1851), pages 20 & 21 (the pipe dance), pages 29 & 29 (Red Cloud’s challenge of the Bozeman Trail), page 33 (a war party), and page 49 (the post-death reflection).

S.D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His traditional name is Maȟpíya Kiŋyáŋ (Flying Cloud) He is an award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children’s books. His books have received many accolades, including the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award, a place on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, and the Western Writers of America Spur Award. Nelson lives in Flagstaff, AZ. Follow him online at sdnelson.net.

Nelson, S.D. Red Cloud: A Lakota Story of War and Surrender. First ed. New York, NY: Abrams Books For Young Readers, 2017. 64 pp. $19.95. Hardcover. Photos, illustrations, timeline, notes, bibliography, index.

North Dakota Content Standards
Grades 4 and 8
Resources: 4.1.4; 8.1.2
Timeline: 4.1.5
Concepts of time: 4.2.2, 4.2.3, 4.2.4
People and events: 4.2.5
Colonization: 4.2.9
Expansion: 4.2.10
Physical geography: 4.5.3; 8.5.1
Human geography: 4.5.5, 4.5.6; 8.5.2, 8.5.3
Culture: 4.6.1, 4.6.2; 8.6.2
US History & Imperialism: 8.2.4, 8.2.9, 8.2.10, 8.2.11




Thursday, April 6, 2017

A Review: Sitting Bull, Lakota Warrior And Defender Of His People

A Review: Sitting Bull, Warrior & Defender
Beautiful Book About Great Leader
By Dakota Wind
Fort Yates, ND (TFS) – In 2015, SD Nelson published his Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People, a first-person historical narrative through the eyes of Sitting Bull. His people's struggle to survive manifest destiny in the late nineteenth century is told through historical photos and Great Plains pictography.

Nominally a children’s book, but much more, Nelson beautifully illustrates a carefully researched and composed historical narrative. Each page is a work of art rendered in the historic Plains Indian style on a ledger book background. Every piece of art is lovingly constructed with a contemporary feel without sacrificing style or story.

Nelson acknowledges the oral traditions for Sitting Bull’s childhood name, Jumping Badger, from the direct lineal descendant, the great-grandson of Sitting Bull, Mr. Ernie LaPointe.

Sitting Bull touches on the last greatest conflict in the American West, Little Bighorn. Nelson takes readers on the journey to Fort Walsh in Canada, where Sitting Bull and his people remained in exile for a few years until the overwhelming call to return home pulled the Lakota back to Missouri River country. Nelson thoughtfully reconstructs the “surrender” of Sitting Bull at Fort Buford, which was actually an exchange of one lifestyle, a hunter-gatherer one, for another, an agricultural one. Imprisonment at Fort Randall is mentioned too.

Sitting Bull’s time as part of Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show is also touched upon, then Sitting Bull’s return to his first and last home on the Grand River, SD. Agent McLaughlin is rendered in a confrontation with Sitting Bull about the Ghost Dance, and Sitting Bull is simply but beautifully rendered as Ikčé (common) in wrapped braids and a robe.

Nelson brings Sitting Bull to a conclusion with the death of the great spiritual leader at the hands of his own people. Nelson illustrates Sitting Bull falling, but not quite on the ground. Two police officers are depicted firing at Sitting Bull in the side and head. The images are suggestive, not graphic in their depiction, truly rendered in the historic Plains Indian style of art.

Nelson’s book is a beautiful tribute to one of the great leaders of the Lakota people. His vibrant use of color enhances a traditional art. This isn’t a typical childhood read, and it shouldn’t be. This is based on a living, breathing first nation man and his struggle in the post-reservation era. If your bookcase has any work by Paul Goble, this one earns its place front and center on that shelf. Get it for yourself and your family if you love art and history.

S.D. Nelson is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. His traditional name is Maȟpíya Kiŋyáŋ (Flying Cloud) He is an award-winning author and illustrator of numerous children’s books. His books have received many accolades, including the American Indian Library Association’s Youth Literature Award, a place on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, and the Western Writers of America Spur Award. Nelson lives in Flagstaff, AZ. Follow him online at sdnelson.net.

Nelson, S. D. Sitting Bull: Lakota Warrior and Defender of His People. First ed. New York, NY: Abrams Books For Young Readers, 2015. 64 pp. $19.95. Hardcover. Photos, illustrations, timeline, notes, bibliography, index.

North Dakota Content Standards
Grades 4 and 8
Resources: 4.1.4; 8.1.2
Timeline: 4.1.5
State Symbols: 4.2.1 (Western Meadowlark, Red Tomahawk)
Concepts of time: 4.2.2, 4.2.3, 4.2.4
People and events: 4.2.5
Colonization: 4.2.9
Expansion: 4.2.10
Physical geography: 4.5.3; 8.5.1
Human geography: 4.5.5, 4.5.6; 8.5.2, 8.5.3
Culture: 4.6.1, 4.6.2; 8.6.2
US History & Imperialism: 8.2.4, 8.2.9, 8.2.10, 8.2.11




Sunday, April 2, 2017

Grandmother Flower, First Flower Of Spring

The Prairie Crocus opened her petals as the sun broke through the overcast. 
First Flower Of The Spring
Grandmother Flower Returns

By Dakota Wind
Mandan, ND (TFS) – I awoke to the distinctive call of Tȟašiyagmuŋka, the Western Meadowlark, outside my window this morning. Last weekend I went out looking for what the settlers called the Pasque Flower, or the Prairie Crocus. The Lakȟóta have two names for the same flower: Hokšíčhekpa, or A Child’s Navel; Uŋčí Waȟčá, or Grandmother Flower. My search was unsuccessful until today.

I hiked on a trail located at a recreation area in the rolling hills of Heart River Country. The sky overhead was overcast with gray clouds and teased the possibility of rain. A light wind blew in from the west and picked the cold up off a lake yet frozen. Last year’s grass was matted from the weight of this winter’s snow; banks of snow lie scattered about the prairie steppe in protest of the coming spring. 


It's easy to see the Prairie Crocus against last year's brown grass.

I stepped off the trail and ascended the north face of a hill, stepping between brush and broken sandstone outcroppings, until I stood on the top. The scree of Čhetáŋ, a hawk, and the honking of a lonely Maǧá, a goose, echoed off the icy lake. I imagine their conversation for a moment, the solitary Maǧá honked, “Tuktél huwó?” and Čhetáŋ screed out into the sky, “WótA!” Maǧá asking where his flock was, Čhetáŋ replying that it’s time to eat.

Škipípi, Chickadee, flitted among the trees and brush whistling, “Alí,” an inquiry if spring has indeed arrived. Wakíŋyela, Mourning Dove, cooed an announcement to all that surely a rain was due. Ištáničatȟaŋka, the Horned Lark, sang out, “Optéptečela, optéptečela!” thinking that perhaps another snow was coming instead. Of all the birds to sing in the spring, it is Tȟašiyagmuŋka whos whistle rises above all, “Oíyokiphi! Ómakha Théča!” or, “Take pleasure! The new year [season] is here!” 

I had to manually focus my camera on the Prairie Crocus' golden heart. 

I reached the top of the hill and fell into step with another trail that took me along the plateau edge and straight to Uŋčí Waȟčá. Her purple robe is outstanding amongst last year’s brown grass and shattered sandstone. Last year’s prickly pear shown bright red against the grass, little bulbs of Missouri Pincushion sat in little round clumps, barbs from both still sharp, but it wasn’t cactus that brought me to the hills.

They say, a long time ago, that a young man went to pray on the hill at the end of winter. It was cold, lonely, and dark, and the young man drew his robe tight about himself. As he did so, a little voice called out in gratitude for the extra warmth. Over the course of the young man’s time on the hill, the flower assured him that he would have his vision. The young man eventually left after his quest was finished, and the flower shivered in the cold. Creator looked down on the flower, and offered gifts of her choice. She wanted a robe of her own, and said that she enjoyed the colors of the mornings and the warmth of the sun. 

From the side, one can see the "fur" of the Prairie Crocus. 

Creator bestowed upon Uŋčí Waȟčá a purple robe and painted her heart gold. She’s the first flower of the new year and as the first moon passes, her robe opens less and turns gray. The first flower sings courage to all the other flowers of the new season and reminds them not to fear their time, but to rejoice because their spirits will go on to color the rainbows. Once in a while, however, the robe of Uŋčí Waȟčá is white, which indicates that a bison drew its last breath in that spot.

The urge to pluck the soft fuzzy flowers is strong, but I can’t take from the earth without leaving a gift in return, so I leave all the Uŋčí Waȟčá as I found them. Long ago, the Lakȟóta gathered and used the whole flower from root to petal in treating arthritis. Someday, as the pain increases in the knuckles of my hands, I may return for these gentle flowers. 

One of many Prairie Crocus growing on a south-facing bluff.

The sun broke through the clouds as I prepared to leave the south-facing hillside, and the flowers began to open. I snapped a few more pictures as I made my way back to the trail. A Kaŋǧí, or Crow, let loose a raucous laugh I felt was at my expense. I was dressed as though it were a summer day, and it was still spring. Kaŋǧí laughed out, “Kȟá!” as if to say, “[You] should have [dressed for the weather]!” I stood and stretched, stiff from the cold, and walked back to my car wishing for my coat.

I thought I was by myself this morning, but in the midst of creation, Makȟóčhe Wašté, the Beautiful Country, was laughter, whistles, and songs that filled the air, and even the wind let up when I passed by the frozen lake.




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Badlands Or Bad Lands

A view of Painted Canyon at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
Badlands Or Bad Lands
Little Missouri Country

By Dakota Wind
Great Plains, ND (TFS) – The landscape is beautiful. Beautiful in the sense that the renaissance poet might say it was beautiful because it required a balance of placement, light, color, and time. It’s beautiful in the sense that the Lakȟóta looked at it and saw that it was inherently good, because good is beautiful. Creation is good.

Over at The Prairie Blog, author and moderator, Mr. Jim Fuglie, features a breakdown about the Badlands, or Bad Lands, if you prefer. There are readers, North Dakota citizens, and out-of-state people who are drawn to one way it's written or the other. In his article, Mr. Fuglie draws on the Lakȟóta place name for the Badlands National Park about this kind of landscape:

Why is it called the Badlands?

The Lakota people were the first to call this place “mako sica” or “land bad.” Extreme temperatures, lack of water, and the exposed rugged terrain led to this name. In the early 1900’s, French-Canadian fur trappers called it “les mauvais terres pour traverse,” or “bad lands to travel through.”

“Today, the term badlands has a more geologic definition. Badlands form when soft sedimentary rock is extensively eroded in a dry climate. The park’s typical scenery of sharp spires, gullies, and ridges is a premier example of badlands topography.”


The Lakȟóta word for land, country, or earth, is Makȟá. The Lakȟóta word for bad is ŠíčA. When the word Makȟá is compounded with ŠíčA, it becomes Makȟóšica. It would seem then, that the written proper name if one needs proper, is Badlands. ŠíčA doesn’t mean bad in the sense that the land isn’t productive, the land was/is quite good for hunting deer, elk, bison, and at one time the bighorn sheep, and might serve as a descriptor of how the landscape appeared, but the land itself wasn’t “bad.” There was something there that was malevolent and dark.


A Tyrannosaurus Rex, as featured at Dinopedia

The erosion of the landscape in the various badland formations tends to reveal fossilized dinosaur remains. The Lakȟóta refer to the great serpents as Uŋktéǧi, a twisted creation of Uŋčí Makȟá (Grandmother Earth). In the early days, after creation, they say these Uŋktéǧi ate people or caused people to mysteriously disappear. Íŋyaŋ, Stone, created WakÍŋyaŋ, the Flying Ones, to do battle with the Uŋktéǧi. WakÍŋyaŋ fly in from the west, terrible lightning flashes from their eyes, and wind gusts from each stroke of their wings, as they cleanse Makȟóčhe Wašté, the Beautiful Country (Great Plains; North America).

The Lakȟóta also name the regions of Makȟóčhe Wašté by the name of the stream which flows through it. The Little Missouri River is known to the Lakȟóta as Čhaŋšótka Wakpá, or Charred Woods River. The Badlands, by this place name method, is called Čhaŋšótka Wakpá Makȟóčhe, meaning Charred Wood River Country. They might call it this if born in that country. In everyday speech, however, the Lakȟóta would call it Makȟóšica.

Mr. Fuglie knows that it isn’t worth the energy to argue about the semantics of Badlands vs. Bad Lands (he prefers two separate words). The better question to ask, and perhaps argue over, would be, “what does the Badlands mean to you?”

See also:
The Sheyenne River Or The Cheyenne River

How To Pronounce Oahe


Visit:

Theodore Roosevelt National Park
____________________

Glossary:


Čhaŋšótka Wakpá (chahn-SHOHT-kah wahk-PAH): Charred Woods River

Íŋyaŋ (EEN-yahn): Stone

Lakȟóta (lah-KHOH-tah): lit. “Affection.” Friend or Ally

Makȟá (mah-KHAH): Earth

Makȟóčhe Wašté (mah-KHOH-chay wash-TAY): The Beautiful Country, Great Plains, North America

Makȟóšica (mah-KHOH-shee-chah): Badlands

ŠíčA (SHEE-chah): Bad

Uŋčí (oon-CHEE): Grandmother

Uŋktéǧi (oonk-TAY-ghee): Serpents, or Dinosaurs

WakÍŋyaŋ (wah-KEEN-yah): Winged Ones, Thunder

Wakpá (wahk-PAH): River




Monday, March 27, 2017

New Moon, New Year In The Moon Counting Tradition

Settlers called the first flower of spring "Prairie Crocus" or "Pasque Flower," but the Lakota people know it as Hoksicekpa, A Child's Navel, or "Wanahca Unci, Grandmother Flower. 
Moon Counting Tradition
New Moon, New Year: 2017-2018

By Dakota Wind
Great Plains, N.D. & S.D. (TFS) – Waná wétu ahí, Spring as arrived. Maǧá, the geese, have returned over the past month from their sojourn in the south, Wakíŋyela, the Mourning Doves, greet the mornings in the Missouri River valley with their queries of possible snow, and Škipípila, the Chickadees, whistle their queries into the wind if spring has indeed returned. Tȟašíyagmuŋka, the Western Meadowlark sings to all, “Oíyokiphi! Ómakȟa Tȟéča yeló!” “Take Pleasure! The New Season [Year] is here!”

The Lakȟóta moon counting tradition calls for incising a notch on a willow switch, a stick would suffice, with the passing of each moon (month). At the end of the year, one should have thirteen notches. The new month in this new cycle is known by a few names: Pȟeží Tȟó Alí Wí (The Green Grass Moon), Maǧá Aglí Wí (Moon When Geese Return), or Wakíŋyaŋ Aglí Wí (Moon Of Returning Thunder).

The 2017 spring equinox occurred on Monday, March 20. Many Lakȟóta journeyed to a special place in Ȟesápa, the Black Hills, to participate in an annual tradition reaching back thousands of years to welcome the Thunder. Some Lakȟóta call this special place Hiŋháŋ KáǧA Pahá, the Making Of Owls Peak. For many years, this highest peak of Ȟesápa, was known as Harney Peak, which some now call Black Elk Peak, in honor of the Oglála holy man.

When spring arrived, not all Lakȟóta made the journey to Ȟesápa. When winter camps broke, many took to the open Great Plains to engage in the first big game hunt of the Ómakȟa Tȟéča. This kind of hunt is called WanásA. Spring was also the time when the Húŋkpapȟa journeyed east to Čaŋsáŋsaŋ Wakpá, Creamy White Tree River (White Birch River; the James River), to trade with the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna (Yanktonai). One rendezvous point was where the Íŋyaŋ Iyá Wakpá, Talking Stone River (the Cannonball River) converges with Mníšoše, another rendezvous point where the Oglála met with the Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋ (Yankton), where the Čaŋsáŋsaŋ Wakpá converged with the Mníšoše.

In the Lakȟóta calendar tradition, the year is referred to as Waníyetu, or Winter. It was called such because winter was the longest season of the year, typically lasting five moons. Wétu, or Spring, lasted two months. Blokétu, or Summer, lasted four months. Ptaŋyétu, or Fall, lasted two months. The Lakȟóta calendar tradition may need to be revised in the future to reflect a change in weather. Deny climate change or acknowledge it, the growing season in North Dakota since 1879 has lengthened twelve days.

Since the equinox, a light rain fell, even as blankets of snow still linger on the landscape. Some might even say that the Thunders stayed on over the winter. Indeed, lightning and thunder was present at Standing Rock. The Mníšoše, the Water A-Stir (the Missouri River), has been breaking for a month now. Geese gather on and around the sandbars to feed before taking flight north.

This morning, in Heart River country, where the Heart River converges with Mníšoše, light wisps of clouds stretched across the eastern horizon and caught fire in the first rays of morning. Fog enveloped the Missouri River valley over a still Mníšoše, so still as to be a perfect mirror. The air is cool and crisp enough to leave whorls of frost on car windows, and a wind so light as to be barely a whisper.

One more sign by which the Lakȟóta know and celebrate Ómakȟa Tȟéča is by the blossoming of Hokšíčhekpa, A Child’s Navel (Prairie Crocus; Pasque Flower), also called Wanáȟča Uŋčí, Grandmother Flower. It is the first flower to appear and the first to take her journey. She sings songs to the other flowers, that their time will come, and not to worry when it does, for their spirits come together to make the rainbow. The entire flower is medicine, used to treat dry skin and arthritis. Her petals are purple and furry like a bison robe, and her heart is golden like the sun, though once in a while Wanáȟča Uŋčí emerges with a white robe which indicates a spot where a bison breathed his or her last breath.

I hiked the rolling hills in Heart River country over the weekend searching for Wanáȟča Uŋčí, but my search bore no results. I found dried and weathered prairie aster from last summer, hard and wrinkled prairie rose hips my grandmother would have called SákA, and lichen ranging from grey and green to brilliant orange and bright red on sandstone jutting out of the hillsides. The 
Lakȟóta call lichen Ziŋtkála Ipátȟapi, which means "Bird Embroidery." I’ll check again in a week’s time.

The Lakȟóta waníyetu, year, will last until March 16, 2018, which is 354 days. Or, as some would have it, the new year began on Monday, March 20, 2017. Ómakȟa Tȟéča yeló!