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.




Sunday, July 29, 2018

Woman Walks Ahead, A Film Review

"This does not look like Standing Rock," he said. "...Standing Rock is supposed to look like New Mexico...," she replied.
Woman Walks Ahead, A Film Review
Can One Scene Redeem A Movie?
By Dakota Wind
Woman Walks Ahead. Directed by Susanna White. Produced by Edward Zwick, Marshall Herskovitz, Erika Olde, Rick Solomon, and Andrea Calderwood. Written by Steven Knight. Music by George Fenton. Starring Jessica Chastain, Michael Greyeyes, Chaske Spencer, Sam Rockwell, and others. U.S.A. & U.K.: Black Bicycle Entertainment, Bedford Falls Productions, and Potboiler Productions. June 29, 2018. Film. 101 Minutes.

Some films are beautifully crafted narratives based on real-life people or circumstances. Others struggle in their telling to make a story bigger than it was. Still more only have one redeeming quality to them. Woman Walks Ahead has one powerful message in a beautifully constructed scene that contains a minimal presence of the film’s female protagonist.

Before the film began, I was milling around in the atrium of the Grand Theater, a locally owned theater in Bismarck, ND, with an old friend talking about life and church. We got there about half an hour early to get good seats. About fifteen minutes into our wait, a young native man comes up to me and shakes my hand. I introduce myself in Lakȟóta and ask him his name. Lo, he offers a confident reply and we exchange pleasantries. A quiet opened around us as we engaged in our language. I told him that I’m not a fluent speaker and that he spoke very well. He nodded his head before rejoining his mother. They went on to see “Deadpool 2.”

Sam Rockwell, pictured above, as Col. Groves on a mission to justify killing Indians and redeem himself, but can't escape white male paternalism, plays a perfect guilty asshole who hasn't slept since the Killdeer fight of 1863. His Lakhota is alright too. 

I knew I wasn’t going to see a historically accurate film. There are plenty of articles drifting in the internet atmosphere challenging the artistry of Susanna White and a rambling self-serving narrative by Steven Knight that pretty much cover my concerns, but I have one overwhelming question.

Why film the movie in New Mexico? There are a few shots where the landscape might pass for Standing Rock, but anyone who has made the pilgrimage to Sitting Bull’s camp knows the rolling hills and sinuous banks of the Grand River are shaded overwhelmingly by cottonwood. The story is as removed from historical fact as it is in location.

New Mexico and its mountains are beautiful, but a beautiful mountain sunset in the southwest is not the same on the vast open prairie steppe. The prairie features unique flat-topped plateaus, an open sky with bright sunlight unhindered only by passing clouds, and a constant wind that has been here since creation. Thítȟuŋwaŋ, or Teton, means “They Who Dwell On The Plains.” White removed the people from the land that made them.

Susanna White (above) goes for emotional truth, not historical truth. The emotional truth that existed between Sitting Bull and Weldon simply did not exist.

Agent McLaughlin (pronounced mick-LOFF-lin by the community and by the Major’s descendants) would have been better served by perpetual cowboy Sam Elliot, at least he’s got the mustache for it. Knight didn’t know whether to write the Major as an apologist or paternalist, and it shows. McLaughlin learned Dakhota from his wife; Hinds’s Major is as confused about hearing Lakhota as Knight’s apparent research about the time and setting of the actual story, and neither should be.

Sam Rockwell’s Colonel Silas Groves is the perfect asshole whose arc represents something of a mix between white guilt and white redemption. Groves tells Chastain’s Weldon of the Indian depredation as justification for the country’s punitive campaign against the red man, and just barely touches on the exchange of escalating violence on the frontier (the 1863 Killdeer Mountain conflict is mentioned in which Sitting Bull mentions seeing Groves there, who was on campaign against the Lakhota who had nothing to do with the events in Minnesota, but for Groves, an Indian is an Indian).

Where's the snow that Knight's script mentioned in Sitting Bull's recollecton? It was not snowing, as it was the middle of summer. 

The 1863 Killdeer Mountain conflict took place in late July, the Moon of Ripe Chokecherries, making it nigh improbable that there was snowfall, and though it could snow in July, there is none mentioned at all in the oral tradition. Maybe in England it snows in July, but not on the Great Plains, but snowfall, even in retrospect in a rambling narrative makes for good telling.

There is a lot to deconstruct and inquire about this film, but it has one powerful redeeming scene. Agent McLaughlin sat with his wife/translator and General George Crook to hear testimony about whether the tribe should sign the Dawes Treaty, which in fact was not a treaty but a congressional act, to break up the Great Sioux Nation into small reservations. These smaller reservations were originally part of official US Indian policy called “concentration,” and were prison camps, the legacy of which enrolled members of federally recognized tribes are assigned enrollment numbers (prison numbers in the concentration policy days).

Sitting Bull, played by Michael Greyeyes (Plains Cree), delivers a powerful oratory about Makȟóčhe (Grandmother Earth) and how the Lakȟóta cannot sell it, “not even this much,” he said as he reached down for a handful of earth and held it before the agent. Some films redeem themselves with the perfect music, others with cinematography. This moment is this film's redemption. 

Stone Man's pictographic testimony of the conflict at Sitting Bull's camp the morning he was killed on the Grand River. Soldiers' guns and cannon fired onto Spotted Elk's (Big Foot's) band of Mnikowozu as they fled. 

The film concludes with the arrest and death of Sitting Bull. Artistic licensing aside, there was just too much missing for me to appreciate this scene as the director intended (a dramatic close up of Welden in the snow in distress over the loss of Sitting Bull). There was a conflict there between the police and the people camped there at Sitting Bull’s home. Soldiers stood atop the bluff of the south bank of the Grand River and fired gun and shell at the camp. Sitting Bull’s death was not by a sniper, but by BIA police officer Bull Head after he was shot; Bull Head shot Sitting Bull twice, once in the side, then in the head.

Sitting Bull was shot and killed by the BIA Indian Police up close, not by sniper. 

Welden’s painting is on display at the ND State Heritage Center and Museum, torn by one of the BIA police officers, but it is not the same as the painting as depicted in Woman Walks Ahead. Sitting Bull was painted “old” because he was old.

Weldon's painting of Sitting Bull on display at the ND Heritage Center and State Museum. The tear in the painting came from one of the BIA police officers. 

There was no romantic love between Sitting Bull and Weldon, but she did things for him that were expected of wives while she lived there: cooked and fed him, chopped wood, and tended his fire. I remember hearing that Sitting Bull asked her just to be his wife since she was doing the things wives do, but there was no romantic attachment. The on-screen chemistry between Weldon and Sitting Bull is chaste and distant, but the introduction of that chemistry is introduced by White and Knight.

See the movie, then visit the North Dakota Heritage Center and Museum to see the real Weldon painting. Adjacent to Weldon’s painting is Stone Man’s pictographic testimony of the conflict that ensued as Sitting Bull was arrested. Both images are worth taking in.