Saturday, July 15, 2017

Lakota Geography

A view of the Great Plains with Dakota-Lakota place names. South is the orienting direction on this map. Makȟóčhe Wašté means “The Beautiful Country.” This is the name the Lakota have for the Great Plains, and by extension, North America.
Lakȟóta Geography
A World View Perspective

By Dakota Wind
Bismarck, N.D. (TFS) – Everyone knows the four cardinal directions. In English these are north, south, east, and west. The Lakȟóta name these four winds, or directions: Itókaǧata (South; “Facing The Downstream Direction”), Wiyóȟpeyata (West; Direction Where The Sun Sets), Wazíyata (North; Direction Of The Pine Tree), and Wiyóhiŋyaŋpata (East; Direction From Which The Sun Comes).

These four directions are represented in the medicine wheel by colors. Black may represent the west. White may represent the north. Red the east, and south by yellow. The color designation isn’t “set in stone.” In fact, some Lakȟóta employ blue or green as well. Many medicine wheels are employed oriented to the north. 

Rivers and streams are often known by more than one name. For example, the Dakota and Lakota call the Cannonball River "Íŋyaŋwakaǧapi Wakpá (Stone Makes For Itself River)," and they also call it "Íŋyaŋiya Wakpá (Talking Stone River)." 

The Lakȟóta memorized the landscape from a ground view perspective. The landscape was named according to the stream within. For example: Čhaŋšótka Wakpá Makȟóčhe, which means “Towering Tree River Country,” this presently refers to the country through which the Little Missouri River runs; Mníšoše Makȟóčhe means “Water A-stir Country,” which refers to country through which the Missouri River runs.

The Lakȟóta call the Great Plains, and by extension North America, “Makȟóčhe Wašté,” which means “The Beautiful Country.” The Lakota Language Consortium’s “New Lakota Dictionary, 2nd Edition,” has an entry for North America as “Khéya Wíta,” which means “Turtle Island.” Perhaps there are Lakȟóta people who call it so. 

A Hunkpapa map of the Little Bighorn Fight is oriented towards the south. Attention is paid more to the layout of the camps than to how the conflict unfolded.

At times the Lakȟóta employed maps, drawing or painting from whatever available resources were at hand (i.e. paper and pencil, cloth and ink, hide and paint, on the ground with a stick). When such maps were constructed, south seems to be the orienting direction.

This map relates the testimony of Takes His Shield, a survivor of the 1863 Whitestone Hill Massacre in Dakota Territory. It was rendered by the hand of Cottonwood and is oriented to the south. 

A testimonial map of the 1863 Whitestone Hill Massacre by Takes The Shield (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) and rendered by Cottonwood (Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna) was executed with the south at top of the map. Three Húŋkpapȟa maps of the 1876 Little Bighorn Fight were executed with south as the orienting direction.

2 comments:

  1. Appreciate what you all are doing very much! Thomas Powers has given some great advice "Killing Crazy Horse" emersing ourselves into Crazy Horse for instance, is knowing him...

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  2. I really enjoy your histories.

    ReplyDelete