Friday, August 30, 2019

Moon Counting Tradition, A Poster

Pictured above is a screen capture of a poster with information about the Moon Counting Tradition. 
Haŋwíyawapi Wičhóȟ'aŋ Kiŋ
The Moon Counting Tradition
Dakota Wind, Editor
Bismarck, N.D. (The First Scout) - Winter Count Keepers kept track of time by following natural changes in the environment and naming the moon in which that moon became associated. 

Months were moons, and thirteen moons represented a winter. The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (the Seven Council Fires; the "Great Sioux Nation") called a cycle of thirteen moons a winter because winter was the longest season on the Northern Plains. 

A moon could have many names. The Wolf Moon one year may be called the Moon of Popping Trees the next. The Yellow Leaf Moon among the Lakȟóta might also be called the Brown Leaf Moon; this same moon among the Dakhóta would be called the Moon When Rise is Laid Up to Dry. 

The historic Lakȟóta held a world-view perspective that was south-oriented. Taking this into account, then the rotation of the moon and the rotation of the earth around the sun would give us a moon calendar layout that looks like the poster above with the cycle of the moons and the phases of the moons "read" in a counter-clockwise manner. 

Of course, the traditional Lakȟóta would never have laid out images like this, rather, the winter count keeper kept track of the moons with counting sticks. 

This poster measures at 3' x 4' and is available for FREE, click here. Share this poster with others and your classroom today. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Months of the Lakota Year as told to Rev Peter Rosen


Months of The Lakota Year
As Told to Rev. Peter Rosen

Edited by Dakota Wind
Rev. Peter Rosen was a Catholic missionary for seven years in the Black Hills beginning with his first placement at St. Andrew’s Parrish in Deadwood, Dakota Territory, 1882. Rosen collected any writing he could to acquaint himself with the Black Hills. He collected newspapers, books, copies of government records, church records including the manuscripts of Fr. Pierre DeSmet, and oral stories on his many various trips in and around the ‘Hills.

In 1895, Rosen published Pa-ha-sa-pah, or, The Black Hills of South Dakota: A Complete History. It was a series of six books published as one volume, with the first three focusing on the indigenous occupation of the Black Hills, their mythologies, and long associations with the ‘Hills.

Amongst Rosen’s work is a collection of Lakȟóta names for the twelve months of the year. The Lakȟóta employ a thirteen-month lunar calendar, not a twelve-month astrological one. Rosen recording offers readers a glimpse of both Lakȟóta and Dakhóta names for the times of year, with a few variant names. These month names have been re-written using the Standard Lakota Orthography which was developed by the Lakota Language Consortium; some of these month names appear in the LLC’s New Lakota Dictionary.

January
Theȟí Wí (Difficult Moon)

February
Wičhítegleǧa Wí (Racoon Moon)

March
Ištáwičhayazaŋ Wí (Sore Eye Moon)

April
Maǧáokada Wí (Moon When Geese Lay Their Eggs)
Watópȟapi Wí (Moon When They Paddle Their Canoes)

May
Wóžupi Wí (The Planting Moon)

June
Wažúštečaša Wí (Ripe Strawberry Moon)

July
Čhaŋpȟásapa Wí (Ripe Chokecherry Moon)
Wašúŋpȟa Wí (When The Geese Shed Their Feathers Moon)

August
Wasútȟuŋ Wí (Moon When Things Ripen)

September
Psiŋ’hnáketu Wí (Moon When They Lay Up Rice [To Dry])

October
Wážupi Wí (Drying Rice Moon)

November
Thakíyuȟa Wí (Deer Rutting Moon)

December
Tȟahékapšuŋ Wí (Moon When Deer Shed Their Horns)



Friday, March 15, 2019

A Resolution To Study A Dichotomy Of Archaeology & Indigenous History

Aerial view of North Dakota State Capitol, Bismarck, N.D. Digital Horizons. 2004-P-19-0014.
A Resolution To Study A Dichotomy
Archaeology & Indigenous History
By Dakota Wind
I attended a committee hearing this morning for Senate Concurrent Resolution 4017 at the North Dakota State Legislature. The summary of the bill is:

“A concurrent resolution directing the Legislative Management to consider studying the dichotomy between the archaeological discipline on cultural resources and the knowledge and expertise of tribal elders and tribal historic preservation officers to educate local, state, and federal agencies and the public; and the facilitation of effective consultation and cooperation for historic and prehistoric site identification and registration and the betterment of North Dakota and its citizens.”

I understand the language of this bill to mean that this is a study only, to begin a dialog between State Historic Preservation Office of North Dakota, the Tribal Historic Preservation Offices and tribal expertise to articulate the importance of known, recorded, sacred, and unrecorded historic sites to the people of North Dakota.

The sponsors of this bill are Sen. Joan Heckaman, Sen. Jordan Kannianen, Sen. Richard Marcellais, Sen. Dave Oehike, Rep. Ruth Buffalo, and Rep. Gretchen Dobervitch.

Sen. Marcellais and Rep. Buffalo introduced the resolution and public testimony followed almost unanimously in favor of this bill.

North Dakota Indian Affairs Commissioner Scott Davis spoke about his boots on the ground approach to meeting with energy interests about the importance of indigenous heritage sites in North Dakota. “It is what it is,” said Commissioner Davis regarding the development of energy resources, even as he spoke of the necessity of dialog between tribes, the state, and energy interests.

Dr. Erich Longie, Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of Spirit Lake began by greeting everyone, “Hiháŋna wašté!” he said. Dr. Longie spoke of the challenges and milestones all of the North Dakota’s citizens have made together in the name of progress while sharing the challenges he faced growing up in North Dakota. He urged the committee to support the concurrent resolution.

Mr. Calvin Grinnell spoke eloquently in support of this resolution. Former Sen. Tracy Potter took the mic and encouraged a change in wording from “dichotomy” in this study to something else, that the most important tool he learned in his political career was to listen, then he promptly left. Two more spoke in support of the resolution, then Fern Swenson took the stand.

I offered testimony in support of the resolution. I shared that there is more to the discussion than the physical record – archaeology – and we need to include the historical record. I then cited a dozen primary historic examples for the failure of the Dakota Access Pipeline’s Class III Survey, information that is completely missing from the report; and cited primary historical documents relating to the prison camp history of the Nez Perce at Fort Abraham Lincoln.

Swenson, the Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer at the State Historic Preservation Office, gave a most tepid oration that, as it turns out, was neither in support or against the resolution. She just wanted the committee to know how many thousands of sites the SHPO manages, how they work with the tribes of North Dakota, and how they assist the tribes “if they ask for it.”

When the committee asked if there were any who opposed the resolution, no one came forward.



Monday, February 4, 2019

A 2019 Lakota Calendar

For a great explanation of the traditional moon calendar get yourself a copy of "Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux," which was reviewed and checked by Mr. Raymond Winters (Fighting Bear), an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.
Haŋwí Wówapi 2019
A 2019 Lakota Calendar

By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, ND - For the Lakȟóta, the New Year begins in spring, and lasts until the next spring. A year is called Waníyetu or winter because winter is the longest season on the Northern Plains. The new month begins with the new moon. A month is called Wí. The sun is also called Wí. To differentiate between the luminaries, the moon is sometimes referred to as Haŋwí (Night-Luminary), and the sun as Aŋpétuwi (Day-Luminary).

The eight phases of the moon are:

Wit’é (Moon-Died) The New Moon.

Wílečhala (Moon To-Be-Recent). The Waxing Crescent between the New Moon and the First Quarter.

Wíokhiseya (Moon Half-Of). The First Quarter of the moon.

Wímimá Kȟaŋyela (Moon-To-Be-Round Near-By). The Waxing Gibbous between the First Quarter and the Full Moon.

Wímimá (Moon-To-Be-Round). The Full Moon.

Wí Makȟáŋtaŋhaŋ Ú (Moon From-The-Earth To-Be-Coming Here). The Waning Gibbous between the Full Moon and the Third Quarter.

Wiyášpapi (Moon-To-Bite-A-Piece-Off-Of). The Third Quarter of the moon.

Wit’íŋkta Kȟaŋyéla (Moon-Wears-About-The-Shoulders Near-By). The Waning Crescent between the Third Quarter and the New Moon.

The Thítȟuŋwaŋ (the Teton, or Lakota) regard the moon in a feminine sense. There is no “man on the moon,” but an old woman in the moon whom they call Hokhéwiŋ. When a ring around the moon appears it is called Wíačhéič’ithi (The Sun Makes A Campfire For Itself); when a ring appears around the moon they say that Hokhéwiŋ has vigorously stirred her pot and the light has spilled out and around her lodge.

Wíačhéič’ithi is also a reference to sundogs. Long ago, a man went out to pray when the cold gray winter seemed to linger too long. The constant bleak gray days began to effect the people’s dreams. He came back and instructed the camp to select two groups of youth to go out east of camp and build to fires, then to return. Everyone came together in the center of camp and prayed. The sun broke through the clouds and as it rose into the sky, the two fires rose into the sky with it. For the Húŋkpapȟa, the sundog is a promise of hope and light.

The Thítȟuŋwaŋ have two differing explanations for the cycles of the moon. The Húŋkpapȟa say that a large Itȟúŋkala (mouse) with a pointed nose gradually eats away the lodge of Haŋwí until there is nothing left (the waning of the moon). Haŋwí then has to reconstruct her lodge (the waxing of the moon). The Oglála say that Haŋwí draws her shawl over either side of her face as Wí approaches her or withdraws from her.

Like other cultures, the Očhéthi Šakówiŋ recognize four seasons. These are: Wétu (Spring) which is two months; Blokétu (Summer) which is four months; Ptaŋyétu (Fall) which is two months; Waníyetu (Winter) which is five months. The changes of seasons are caused by the eternal conflict of two brothers: Wazíya (the North) and Ókaǧa (the South). If Wazíya plays his flute during summer rains, he causes it to freeze, making hail. When Wazíya wins, we have winter; when Ókaǧa wins, we have summer.

The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ used to keep track of the days, months, and year with Čhaŋwíyawa (Counting Stick/s). Some might use thirteen sticks, one for each month in the lunar year; others might just use one willow switch and notch it (one for a day, or one for each month). Čhaŋwíyawa are recognized more for their use in hand games (a traditional guessing game) than for tracking time.

This calendar includes memorial days of some massacres and major conflicts. This 2019 moon calendar overlaps with part of December 2018 through part of January 2020. 

This year's calendar is made with the gracious assistance of Mr. Dustin White and Mr. Doug Wurtz. Both have allowed me to use their photographs to complete this year's calendar. Their names appear next to their photographs. 
















Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Long Soldier Winter Count

Waníyetu Wówapi Kíŋ Akíčhita Háŋska
Long Soldier Winter Count Revisited
By Dakota Wind
In 2007, editors Candace Green and Russell Thornton brought together in one publication "The Year the Stars Fell: Lakota Winter Counts at the Museum." This book features not just the winter counts, but interpretations of the pictographs, including commentary about the further meanings of various entries. It is obvious that the editors care deeply for these pictographic records. 

The Long Soldier Winter Count deserves to be revisited and compared to other Hunkpapa Lakota winter counts. Long Soldier's winter count seems to match up closely with the High Dog Winter Count, but there are some distinctions. This second look is also an attempt to put the narrative of each entry back into the Lakota language. 

There exists a variant of the Long Soldier Winter Count that has been studied and interpreted by Dr. Jenny Tone-Pah-Hote in the summer of 2004. Her interpretation of the MIA Long Soldier Winter Count may still be on the internet somewhere. 

I've employed the Lakota Language Consortium's (LLC's) Standard Lakota Orthography (SLO). Entries follow the format of year, the year's "name" written using the SLO, a free translation, followed by narrative or additional commentary. 

Get yourself a copy of "The Year the Stars Fell."

View a full-size copy of the Long Soldier Winter Count at the Sitting Bull College Library

Download the Long Soldier Winter Count Revisited.

Questions? Comments? Email me at tunweyathokaheya (at) gmail (dot) com.


Saturday, December 8, 2018

Winter Solstice and the Midwinter Moon

"The Long Night Moon," or Winter Solstice, pictured above, a pictographic representation for the lunar month of the Lakota people. This month will last from Dec. 7, 2018, through Jan. 4, 2019. The crescent represents the moon, or month, the star represents the night, and the arc represents the length of the night. 
Winter Solstice and the Midwinter Moon
They Were Carried When They Fell
By Dakota Wind
The long star-filled nights were a time to remember the myth-history of the people. I imagine a family similar to mine, gathered around a glowing fire, watching the flame, feeling the heat, and listening to the voice of ancient authority in a line of grandmothers and grandfathers going back to their elders and those before them.

The first snow was celebrated. Men put on their snowshoes and danced in the fresh powder. The snow made for ease of hunting. The Lakȟóta explained the changing of the seasons as an epic battle between two brothers: Wazíya (The North) and Okáǧa (The South). As one retreated, the other gained ground. When Wazíya won, his breath blew across the landscape, and for as deadly and sharp his cold breath might be, he brought a blanket of snow under which Uŋčí Makȟá (Grandmother Earth) slept.

The High Dog Winter Count recalls the year 1800 as one of the most challenging years to survive. The summer heat was unbearably hot. The great gangs of bison went away, and hunting was poor. Flowers disappeared from the landscape, and the wind drank up the water. The birds refused to sing too.

The punishing summer was followed by a harsh winter.

Winter came, snow and ice were everywhere. According to the White Bull Winter Count, a group of Lakȟóta decided to move winter camp from the bottomlands of one river to that of another. As they moved over the high plains, a blizzard caught them. Gradually some of them began to succumb to the cold and fell. As one person fell, another lifted and carried him or her the rest of their journey. Kičhíč’iŋpi keúŋkiyapi, “They say that they carried each other.” 



This constellation is commonly known as "Auriga" is as it would be seen in the middle of the night during the Winter Solstice. The biggest star closest to the middle of the crescent is commonly known as Capella. 

By firelight and starlight, the Lakȟóta used the time of the long winter night to share stories like that of Wičháȟpi Hiŋȟphaya (The Fallen Star; also called “Star Boy”). The story of his mother, Tȟapȟúŋ Šá Wíŋ (Red Cheek Woman), and father, Wičháȟpi Owáŋžila (The Star that Does Not Move; “The North Star”) is fairly well known.

According to Ronald Goodman’s work in his Lakota Star Knowledge, Fallen Star was renowned among the Lakȟóta as “the Protector, the bringer of light and higher consciousness.” After becoming a father, Fallen Star ascended “a hill at night with a friend,” and told him that he was going to return home. Fallen Star laid down upon the hilltop and died. His spirit was seen a light that rose into the star world. “At some time in the past, all Lakȟóta acquired the gift of light he brought them.” (Goodman, 2017; 32) Goodman’s work says that human beings are composed of matter and light.

In 1967, Helen Blish published her thesis A Pictographic History of the Oglala Sioux, featuring the works of Amos Bad Heart Bull (~1868-1913), a noted Lakȟóta artist, amongst of what was a map of the Black Hills and other features including Pahá Ská (White Butte). White Butte is noted as being north of the Black Hills. 



Kapemni, an hourglass shape symbolizing what is in the heavens is also on earth. 

Goodman discusses an ancient central symbol strongly associated with the heavens and the world. This symbol is referred to as Kapémni (“the action is swinging around and around,” as with a warclub or bullroar), and resembles an hourglass. One half represents all that is heavenly, the other half represents all that is worldly. What is in the heavens is also present in the world. In the pages of Lakota Star Knowledge, this “mirroring” is demonstrated in a map of the Lakȟóta constellation Čhaŋgléška Wakȟáŋ (The Sacred Hoop) which demarcates the locations of landmarks in and around the Black Hills.

It is a general map; not everything matches up perfectly. Matȟó Thípila (Bear Lodge), or Devils Tower, is not actually within Khiíŋyaŋka Očháŋku (The Race Track), the edge of the Black Hills. The Race Track is the “mirror” of the Sacred Hoop. White Butte is not a part of the Black Hills, but it is north. It is a real butte. It is also the hill upon which Fallen Star made his journey back to the sky. 



White Butte, located in southwest North Dakota near the town of Amidon. 

Like Devils Tower, White Butte appears to be in the narrative of the Sacred Hoop, though it is not so on earth. Yet according to the map of the Sacred Hoop constellation in Lakota Star Knowledge, a star commonly known as Capella, the brightest star in the constellation Auriga appears as part of the Sacred Hoop.

Referencing Bad Heart Bull’s map, and tracking the sky from the Sacred Hoop to the North Star one “sees” the stars associated with the constellation Auriga “pointing” or “reaching” towards the North Star. The constellation Auriga appears to be Kapémni, or "mirror" of White Butte and the immediate landscape surrounding that beautiful plateau. 



The constellation is commonly known as Auriga. The brightest star in this constellation is Capella. If this were the Lakota constellation for Fallen Star it would seem that his arm is raised, perhaps reaching for his father, North Star. 

I suggest that Capella is the Fallen Star, and Auriga is his constellation.

The Lakȟóta share Ohúŋkakaŋ (stories from the distant past) and Wičhówoyake (stories, legends, myth) during the five lunar months of Waníyetu (the winter season), and during this moon especially, they share stories like the Fallen Star narrative. 



Fallen Star, wears a robe symbolizing the day and night, a bow under the edge of his robe. 

Long ago, before the reservation era anyway, the month which some might call December today, was known by some Lakȟóta as Waníčhokaŋ Wí (The Midwinter Moon). They might not have known the exact day, but could reckon the subtle shift in daylight when there was a little more of it and could track the general date with counting sticks; they knew it happened in the Midwinter Moon.

According to Vi Waln, “I believe the real day of prayer was observed on the winter solstice by the people with ceremony, food, and family.” Further, “Nature and the stars were monitored carefully to help with preparation for whatever time of year was upon the people.” And lastly, “Many Lakota people will offer prayer in much the same our ancestors did so on the Winter Solstice.” (Valn, Winter Solstice Is Sacred, 2011)


There are five winter moons in the traditional Lakȟóta calendar. After the Winter Solstice, it was time to gather red willow (eastern dogwood) to make čhaŋšáŋšaŋ, a traditional tobacco made from the inner bark of the red willow, and used for ceremony. 

In the heart of winter, in daylight, there sometimes appears the sundog. The Lakȟóta call it Wíačhéič'thi, which means "The Sun Makes A Campfire [For Himself]." Sometimes, during the winter nights, they see a ring around the moon, also called Wíačhéič'thi, only this is interpreted as "The Moon Makes a Campfire [For Herself]."

The New Lakota Dictionary lists the Winter Solstice as Waní-Wí-Ipȟá (Crest of the Winter Sun). The Húŋkpapȟa might call the same Haŋyétu Háŋska (The Long Night) as they called this traditional month Haŋyétu Háŋska Wí (The Long Night Moon).

However it is called this day, or this month, these things are certain: gather close together with family in observation or prayer, eat together, share stories, and carry each other.