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?”

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.

See also:
The Sheyenne River Or The Cheyenne River

How To Pronounce Oahe


Theodore Roosevelt National Park


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!

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.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Lakota Courtship: Catch Her Wrap, Sing Her Songs, Steal Her Moccasins

The Plains Indian flute is featured in Paul Goble's "Love Flute."
Lakota Courtship And Marriage
Catch Her Wrap, Steal Her Moccasins

By Dakota Wind
The Great Plains, ND (TFS) – Long ago, young Očhéthi Šakówiŋ men would court their sweethearts with spoken words and by serenading them with song. Courtship was public, in full view of the wičhóthi (the village, or encampment). How a man pursued his love, and how she returned or didn’t return his affections was known to all. This public courtship was known as Wiókhiyapi, or “To court a woman.”

One of the tools men used to court women was the Plains Indian love flute. The Lakȟóta call the flute Wayážo, which simply means, “To play the flute.” The Plains Indian love flute has its origins in a variety of stories, but the common elements include: a young man who is in love with a young woman and has an inability to express himself to her, supernatural assistance (how he acquires the flute), and then how he wins the affections of his sweetheart. The young women were never expected to respond, but if they did, the young man might craft a song from her words to him.

Regarding the flute and the nature of serenading, the late Ella Deloria had much to share about this subject. “To have a love song sung about one was shameful. This was the only kind of love song that existed and it was no compliment,” Deloria said in her work The Dakota Way of Life. The Dakota call these love songs Wiílowaŋpi, Singing About A Woman. The Thítȟuŋwaŋ term for the same is Wióweštelowaŋpi, which Deloria interprets as, A Singing In Mockery Of Woman.

Deloria said the Wiílowaŋpi was like a public report on a young woman’s courtship behavior. From the love song, two things are implied: that she had yielded herself outside of marriage, or had promised to marry with no intention of doing so. The Wiílowaŋpi had a rule for its composition: young women were not outright named. Her identity had to be guessed. There's always an exception, and Deloria recalled on one occasion that a jilted lover actually named his obsession, which was shameful to him and intolerable to her.

From inside Goble's "Love Flute," which shows young men singing past sunset and into the night.

The traditional courting hour, according to Deloria, was towards evening when the sun hung low and men took their horses to water, when the women went to gather fuel and water to last the night.

Deloria called courtship WióyuspA, or To Catch A Woman, in reference to catching hold of a woman’s wrap to detain her. The alternate term in Dakota is WiókhiyA, To Talk To A Woman. Once caught, it was proper for a young woman to free herself or pretend a false resistance if she liked her suitor, but not too much resistance lest her efforts dampen his pursuit of her. When her suitor spoke to her, she would affect disinterest in him. It was the man’s role to pursue and the woman’s role to be pursued. A highly romantic young woman might be seduced into an indiscretion and then abandoned after once yielding herself. Deloria called this Maníl Éiȟpéyapi, Abandoned In The Wilds.

"Courting In A Blanket," by Evans Flammond.

Another tool men employed in Wiókhiyapi was the bison robe or blanket. A young man would wear a blanket about his shoulders, there might be other suitors too, all politely ignoring each other, waiting for their intended to appear. If a man was able to catch his sweetheart for just a moment, he’d wrap his blanket around himself and her, and share his feelings with her. The Lakȟóta have a phrase to describe this situation: Šiná Aópemni Inážiŋpi (lit. “Robe Wrapped-up-in Standing-they”), or Standing Wrapped In A Blanket. The blanket tradition is still seen in modern times, late night, on the pow-wow trail, but only the blanket itself is referred to in colloquial terms as a “snagging blanket.” According to the late Albert White Hat, they stood under the robe and spoke, the blanket was means of providing a moment of privacy.

Courtship Scene with Umbrella. A beautifully executed example of quillwork. Prairie Edge, Rapid City, SD.

Lastly, the umbrella was used in the traditional courtship as a supplemental tool to provide not just shade, but additional privacy from wary eyes. The umbrella was a popular trade item long before the reservation era. They were decorated with feathers, ribbons, bells, thimbles, and beadwork. Some were even painted.

The primary usage of the umbrella was for shade, which is reflected in the names for the umbrella. The New Lakota Dictionary has an entry for umbrella as Íyohaŋzi, or To Cast Shadow On. The Dakota call the umbrella Óhaŋzihdepi, which refers to any constructed shade against the sun (a pow-wow bowery, an awning, a light branch with the leaves still on, and even an umbrella). Buechel’s Lakota Dictionary entry for umbrella as Oíyohaŋzi, which refers to a shelter providing shade from the sun, but Buechel’s entry says this referred to a wagon covering.

Tipis at Fort Yates, ND. Photo by Frank Fiske.

A woman didn’t draw attention to herself, but she could announce her availability for suitors by affixing a pair of rabbit ears to one of the lodge poles when camp was established.

The woman was not without authority in her suitors’ courtship. If a man held no interest for her at all, she might say, “Héčhe šni (Don’t do that),” or more simply make a sign of negation, which is holding one’s open hand up, fingers together, palm facing inward, and waving one’s hand in and out a few times.

It was not unheard of for a young woman to demonstrate her affections to a young man by secretly gifting him with her work (ex. a decorated pair of moccasins), but this was considered improper. Deloria calls this “man buying,” and that this was cause for private ridicule and suspicion among the women. When a gift, as such, was given, the young woman hoped that the young man cared enough not to reveal from whom he received it. As she gifted him, she might whisper, “Wíyukčaŋ,” or “Think about this [us],” which Deloria freely translates as, “Perhaps this will help you think.”

Lakota moccasins, ~1910 CE. The wear on the soles indicate that the wearer walked on the balls of his feet. Fully beaded moccasins with beaded soles were actually worn. Eiteljorg Museum.

Haŋpa, or moccasins, played a role in courtship and marriage too. When a young man pursued his sweetheart, he might ride his horse in front of her mother’s lodge. Doing so, he usually plaited his hair, dressed his best, and even painted his face. If his mother or sisters were so inclined, they would make a pair of fully beaded moccasins. Not just the moccasin tops were beaded or quilled, but the very soles as well. This would indicate that his female relatives thought highly of him, a good sign for his intended.

Some men might offer a young woman’s father a gift of fine fleet horses, guns, blankets, or another special gift. He did this not to “buy a wife,” but to demonstrate his ability to provide for her. If her parents approved of his match to their daughter, they accepted these gifts and presented some of their own, this formalized and recognized the marriage. If his gifts were refused, it wasn’t a slight to the suitor, rather, they thought highly of their daughter that they wanted a man who could provide better. This demonstration of gifts to “buy” one’s wife is called Wíŋyaŋčhiŋ. When the marriage was recognized, the bride’s family presented her and her new husband with a lodge of their own to start their family.

In the tradition of giving gifts to “get the girl,” young lovers might announce their intention to marry concurrently. A young man might urge his parents to prepare gifts and a feast, then his family took horses and clothes for the young man’s intended. The young woman would dress in the clothes her lover’s family made for her, and her Hakátaku, or brothers, would set her upon one of the horses her fiance gifted to them, and escort their sister to the feast. There were no speeches or formal rite to observe. He wanted her, and she wanted him. This kind of marriage was called Wíŋyaŋ Hé Čhiŋčák’upi, or They Gave Her To Him.

Sometimes a man captured a woman from another tribe for his wife. This was called YúzA, or To Hold Something or Somebody Tight. This word is never used in reference by men or women to take a man.

A Yanktonai man and a Mandan woman elope.

It happened from time to time, that a young couple might elope. Elopement wasn’t unknown to the Lakȟóta. They called it WiínaȟmA, or To Run Away With Somebody (a woman) and marry in secret. The reasons vary. Perhaps she didn’t like any of her suitors and loved only one suitor.

When a young woman made her choice, the other young men assumed an air of nonchalance. It was laughable to show resentment of her choice, there were other women. If more than one young woman showed interest in a man, neither would they deride the man’s choice. A woman might say, “Is he the only man?”

The 1824-1825 entry of the Swan Winter Count portrays a single horse, but the entry recalls the death of twenty of Swan's horses killed by a jealous person. wintercounts.si.edu.

Now and then, there was a jilted man who demanded retaliatory satisfaction. Deloria recounted a story of a man who made lame a rival’s horse. Deloria couldn’t find an informant who knew of this incident, but this did happen. According to the Swan Winter Count in 1824-1825, when Swan, an Oóhenuŋpa (Two Boilings; Two Kettle), had all his horses killed. Once, an angry young man threw dirt in the face of a woman who married another. This demonstration served a grievous insult meaning that she was a liar and now all would know of it. Deloria said of this particular incident, that no one felt sorry for the new bride and that she “had it coming.”

Jilted women sometimes demanded satisfaction too. Deloria recalled the story of a woman who cast her knife at a man who had betrayed her (two-timed her perhaps?) and took out one of his eyes. In another incident, a place called Chateau Creek in south-eastern South Dakota, known in Dakota as Nawízi Kičhízapi, or The Jealous Ones Fight Each Other, was where two women cast dignity aside and fought over a man.

A young man removed her moccasins to prevent her from running away. Photo of pictograph by Holly Young.

If a young man captured a woman or eloped with her, he pulled her up on to his horse behind him, removed her moccasins, and held onto them so she wouldn’t run away.

Mature men and women courted politely and respectfully. An older man didn’t serenade his woman with song or flute, neither did he try to grab her wrap or wrap her in his blanket, not did he steal her moccasins. That was behavior for young men. No. The mature man might call on a mature woman and visit politely for a while before saying something like, “You seem to me a woman I could live with harmoniously.” A mature woman might say, “I have no one to hunt for me (or my father).” The mature man and woman never dared to elope either. They were adults, and elopement was for the young.

Divorce isn’t a topic focused on here, but it certainly happened and it could be initiated by a woman as easily as a man. The general causes for divorce were unfaithfulness and laziness. 

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.

Kevin Locke. 

Deloria, Ella Cara. The Dakota Way Of Life. Sioux Falls, SD: Mariah Press, 2007.

White Hat, Albert, and compiled and edited by John Cunningham. Life’s Journey - Zuya: Oral Teachings from Rosebud. Ann Arbor, MI: University of Utah Press, 2012.

Goble, Paul. Tipi: Home of The Nomadic Buffalo Hunters. Lanham: World Wisdom, 2013.

Belitz, Larry, and Mark Belitz. The Buffalo Hide Tipi of The Sioux. Sioux Falls, SD: Pine Hill Press, SD, 2006.

Ullrich, Jan F. New Lakota Dictionary: Lakȟótiyapi-English/English-Lakȟótiyapi & incorporating the Dakota Dialects of The Yankton-Yanktonai & Santee-Sisseton. Bloomington, IN: Lakota Language Consortium, 2011.

Buechel, Eugene, and Paul Manhart. Lakota Dictionary: Lakota-English/English-Lakota. Lincoln, NB: University of Nebraska Press, 2002.

Waggoner, Josephine, Emily Levine, and Lynne Allen. Witness: A Húŋkpapȟa Historian’s Strong-Heart Song of The Lakotas. Lincoln, NB & London, England: University of Nebraska Press, 2013.

Clark, W.P. The Indian Sign Language. LaVergne, TN: General Books, 2009.

Hassrick, Royal B. The Sioux: Life And Customs Of A Warrior Society. Norman, OK: University of Oklahoma Press, 1964.

Swan Winter Count (Oóhenuŋpa). wintercounts.si.edu. Accessed on March 19, 2017.

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)

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Origins Of The Cannonball Stones

A cannonball concretion near Sentinel Butte, ND. Photo by ND State.
Origin Of The Cannonball
How The Stone Is Formed

By Dakota Wind
Cannonball, N.D. (TFS) – Mníšoše (the “Water A-stir;” Missouri River) is perhaps as old as 80 million years. Before the Quaternary Ice Age, the river ran north and drained into Hudson Bay. Following that ice age, the river altered its course and flowed east and south. The Lakȟóta worldview perspective observes that over time, rivers and mountains change. The Lakȟóta worldview embraces change. Everything changes.

One of the Mníšoše tributaries, Íŋyaŋ IyÁ Wakpá (Talking Stone River; Cannonball River) is a natural landmark, known by the first nations for thousands of years, and later by explorers and traders like the Corps of Discovery, traders, and military expeditions.

The Cannonball River is known by many names. The Húŋkpapȟa and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna call it Íŋyaŋ IyÁ Wakpá, or Íŋyaŋwakaǧapi Wakpá (Stone Production [“Cannonball”] River), respectively. The Cheyenne call this same river É’ome’tá’á’e’t, in reference to the cannonball concretions. The Hidatsa know the Cannonball River as Aashihdia, which means Big River. The Mandan Indians, whose earliest historical record goes back to the Cannonball River, call it Pasąhxte’, meaning Big River.

The Mníšoše was known to the Thítȟuŋwaŋ (Dwellers On The Plains; Lakȟóta) as a dangerous river with a deadly undercurrent. Where tributaries converged with the Mníšoše, great wamníyomni (whirlpools) formed in the river. When the first nations crossed the Mníšoše they did so upstream of the wamníyomni. 

A Mandan Village by Karl Bodmer. In the image, Mandan women cross the Missouri River to tend to their gardens on the flood plain of the opposite shore. 

There are two explanations that explain the origin of the cannonball concretions. One mystical, a lesson in holding dear the mystery of creation; the other geological, telling us that these stones have a long history reaching back to a time before humans. In both explanations water is the key to their formation.

According to Jon Eagle Sr., Tribal Historic Preservation Officer of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, the wamníyomni at the confluence of the Mníšoše and Íŋyaŋ IyÁ Wakpá, where the energy of one river converged with the energy of another, is where the cannonball concretions were formed. The energy of the wamníyomni created the stones. Eagle contends that after the construction of Oáhe (Something-To-Stand-On; a “Foundation”) Dam, after the creation of Lake Oáhe, the wamníyomni at the confluence of Íŋyaŋ IyÁ Wakpá and Mníšoše, stopped producing the spherical cannonball stones.

Dr. Ray Wood sums up the disappearance of the cannonball concretions in his Prologue To Lewis And Clark, “the banks and valley of this stream once were home to uncounted spherical sandstone concretions that ranged from a few inches to several feet in diameter. Some of them indeed were the size of cannonballs. Today they have been carried away by curio hunters in such numbers that they are very rare.” 

Bluemle explains how the Missouri River once drained into Hudson Bay. Visit his amazing website explaining the geological history of the Great Plains: johnbluemle.com

John Bluemle Ph.D. (former State Geologist for the state of North Dakota) explains the cannonball stones’ process through cementation. The cannonball stones “form as a result of the selective deposition from water of cementing materials in the pores of the sediment,” and, “All the geologic formations in western North Dakota contain concretions and nodules of many sizes and shapes.” Bluemle states in his work The Face Of North Dakota, that “some concretions are nearly spherical, some long and tubular, and others have irregular shapes.” As the landscape erodes around the cemented concretions, the cannonball is revealed.

The cannonball is so important to the identity of North Dakota, that the North Dakota Heritage Center and State Museum features several cannonball concretions outside its east entrance.

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.