Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The Lakota Months And New Year

An illustration from Jospeph Bruchac's "Thirteen Moons On Turtle's Back." A good book for introducing concepts of the months and names from several First Nations. 
The Lakota Calendar & New Year’s Day
Thirteen Months Equals One Year/Winter

By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, N.D. (TFS) – The Thitȟuŋwaŋ (Lakȟóta) refer to the year as waníyetu (a winter). They called it such for it was the longest season on Makȟóčhe Wašté (The Beautiful Country; Great Plains, or North America). The waníyetu was marked by the passing of thirteen moons (months). Some say that the waníyetu lasted from snowfall to snowfall, others from spring to spring. There is one Lakȟóta man on Standing Rock who says that he learned that the year lasted from mid-summer to mid-summer.

A traditionalist would say that the Lakȟóta month is twenty-eight days long. Using the moon counting stick method to track the days, one finds that new moon nights are not counted, so the length of the month can be said to be roughly twenty-eight days. A month lasted from new moon to new moon. Each month of the moon calendar, however, lasts on average twenty-nine to thirty days. The moon calendar from March 2017 to March 2018, lasts 383 days.

The Húŋkpapȟa say that after a full moon, a large mouse with a pointed nose nibbles away at the lodge of Haŋwí (the Moon) to describe the waning of the moon, then Haŋwí rebuilds her lodge after each new moon. Some Lakȟóta say that Haŋwí draws her shawl over her face as her husband, Wí (the Sun) approaches her. Long ago, Wí shamed Haŋwí with an indiscretion and they’ve been parted since. But on occasion, it is Haŋwí who approaches Wí and covers him with her shawl, they embrace for a moment, and then they part. You would call this a solar eclipse. The Húŋkpapȟa call it Maȟpíya Yapȟéta, “Cloud On Fire.”

A partial solar eclipse as seen from the central North Dakota, by author. 

Sometimes during the winter months, the light of Haŋwí spills out and lights the sky in a ring around her lodge. The Húŋkpapȟa say that Haŋwí is cooking and she has vigorously stirred her pot, and light has spilled out into the night sky. The Lakȟóta call this ring around the moon, Wíačhéič’ithi.

The Lakota Language Consortium have recorded eight phases of the moon in their New Lakota Dictionary. These are: Wit’é (the New Moon), Wílečhala (the crescent between the New Moon and the First Quarter), Wíokhiseya (the First Quarter), Wímimá Kȟaŋyéla (phase between First Quarter and Full Moon), Wímimá (the full moon), Wí Makȟátaŋhaŋ (phase between Full Moon and Third Quarter), Wiyášpapi (the Third Quarter), and Wit’íŋkta Kȟaŋyéla (the crescent between Third Quarter and New Moon).

New Year’s Day for the Húŋkpapȟa will fall on the day of the New Moon following the Spring Equinox, which is March 27, 2017. New Year’s Day for the one Húŋkpapȟa man in Wakpála, S.D. will fall on the Summer Solstice, which is June 20, 2017. For the Lakȟóta who say that the year lasts from snowfall to snowfall, their year will begin with snowfall later in 2017. 

A FREE 2017 Moon Phase Calendar at 72 Hours American Power

The name of the moon was never permanently set because the new moons gradually moved to a different time each winter. This explains why moons have alternate names. The Holding Hands Moon might be next year’s Moon Of Popping Trees. 

Here’s a breakdown of the thirteen month calendar for 2017 (with alternate names):

Dec. 29, 2016 – Jan. 26, 2017.
Wiótheȟika Wí: (Lit. “Sun-Hard-Time Moon”) The Sun Is Scarce Moon
Napé Oyúspa Wí: (Lit. “Hand To-Hold Moon”) Holding Hands Moon

Jan. 27, 2017 – Feb. 25, 2017
Čhaŋnápȟopapi Wí: (Lit. “Trees-Popping Moon) Moon Of Popping Trees
Aŋpétu Núŋpa Osní Wí (Lit. “Day Two Cold Moon”) Two Cold Days Moon
Šuŋgmánitu Tȟáŋka Wí (Lit “Wolf Moon”) Wolf Moon

Feb. 26, 2017 – March 26, 2017
Ištáyazaŋ Wí: (Lit. “Eyes-Sore Moon”) Sore Eyes [Snow-blindness] Moon
Aŋbháŋkeya Wí (Lit. “Day-Night-Half Moon”) Moon Of Half Day, Half Night

March 27, 2017 – April 25, 2017
Pȟeží Tȟo Wí (Lit. “Grass-Green Moon”) Green Grass Moon
Maǧá Aglí Wí (Lit. “Goose Returns Moon”) Moon When Geese Return
Wakíŋyaŋ Aglí Wí: (lit. “Thunder Return Moon”) Moon Of Returning Thunder

April 26, 2017 – May 24, 2017
Čhaŋwápenableča Wí (Lit. “Tree-Leaf-Unfold-Themselves Moon”) Moon When The Leaves Unfold
Waȟčá Hdehdé Wí (Lit. “Flower/s Scattered-Here-And-There Moon”) Flowers Bloom Here And There Moon
Ptehíŋčhala Tȟúŋ Wí: (Lit. “Bison-Calf Born Moon”) Moon When Bison Calves Are Born

May 25, 2017 – June 22, 2017
Maȟčhíŋča Nuŋwáŋ Wí (Lit. “Ducklings To-Swim Moon”) Moon When Ducklings Swim
Uŋžíŋžiŋtka Wí (Lit. “Prairie Rose Moon”) Prairie Rose Moon
Thíŋpsiŋla Wí (Lit. “Turnip Moon”) Prairie Turnip Moon
Wípazukȟa Wí (Lit. “Juneberry Moon”) Juneberry Moon

June 23, 2017 - July 22, 2017
Blokétučhokaŋ Wí (Lit. “Middle-Of-The-Summer Moon”) Middle Of The Summer Moon
Čhaŋpȟásapa Wí (Lit. “Chokecherry-Black Moon”) Ripe Chokecherry Moon

July 23, 2017 - Aug. 20, 2017
Kȟáŋtašá Wí: (Lit. “Plum-Red [Ripe] Moon”) Ripe Plum Moon
Wasútȟuŋ Wí: (Lit. “Things-Ripen Moon”) Moon When Things Ripen

Aug. 21, 2017 - Sept. 19, 2017
Čhaŋwápe Ǧí Wí: (lit. “Tree-Leaves Brown Moon”) Moon When Leaves Turn Brown
Čhaŋwápe Zí Wí: (lit. “Tree-Leaves Yellow Moon”) Moon When Leaves Turn Yellow

Sept. 20, 2017 - Oct. 18, 2017
Čhaŋwápe Kasná Wí: (lit. “Tree-Leaves To-Drop-Off Moon”) Moon Of Falling Leaves

Oct. 19, 2017 - Nov. 17, 2017
Ȟeyúŋka Wí: (lit. “Frost Moon”) Frost Moon
Thiyóȟeyuŋka Wí: (lit. “Lodge-On-Frost Moon”) Frost On The Lodge Moon

Nov. 18, 2017 - Dec. 17, 2017
Waníyetu Wí: (lit. “Winter Moon”) Winter Moon

Dec. 18, 2017 - Jan. 15, 2018
Waníčhokaŋ Wí: (lit. “Middle-Of-The-Winter Moon”) Midwinter Moon

Dakota Wind is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He is currently a university student working on a degree in History with a focus on American Indian and Western History. He maintains the history website The First Scout.

Mrs. Amanda Grass, Welch Dakota Papers
Mr. Kevin Locke (The First To Arise) and Mr. Joe Bull Head
Mr. Raymond Winters (Fighting Bear)

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