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.

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.

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). 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


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:

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.

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Survey Report Says Nothing To See Here

Leslie Nielsen's "Lt. Frank Drebin" from the 1988 comedy classic, "The Naked Gun." In this scene, Drebin tells people, "Move along. There's nothing to see here. Please disperse."
Survey Report Doesn't Say Much
"Move Along. There's Nothing To See Here."
By Dakota Wind 
Bismarck, N.D. (TFS) - Last November I submitted letters and copies of bibliographical information and primary resource documents to several agencies regarding the Class III survey report submitted to the North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office in January 2016. 

The contrast of information excluded from the report is far greater than what the report actually contains. The report minimizes the cultural, historical, and military occupations of a significant landmark on the Missouri River: the Cannonball River. 

Here are one dozen distinct events (a detailed explanation and complete bibliography can found in at "Remembering A River:" 

The Big River Village, a Huff phase Mandan Indian occupation as early as 1400 C.E. The site that has been disturbed by the drill pad on the north bank of the Cannonball River is known to the Mandan as "Big River Village," and to the State Historical Society of North Dakota as the "North Cannonball Village." 

The 1762-1763 Sičháŋǧu (Burnt Thigh; Brulé) and Cheyenne Fight, an inter-tribal conflict in which the Cheyenne retaliated and set fire to the prairie which caught and burned their enemy giving them the designation Sičháŋǧu. 

English explorer John Evans, who mapped the Missouri River from St. Louis to Knife River in 1796, includes the Cannonball River as the "Bomb River," in reference to the cannonballs.

The inter-tribal between the Mandan, Hidatsa, Húŋkpapȟa and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna that began at the mouth of the Cannonball River concluded at the mouth of the Heart River in 1803. 

The Corps of Discovery Expedition remarked on the "La Bullet" River and took a cannonball concretion, Oct. 18, 1804. 

Botanist John Bradbury collected flax from the Cannonball River in 1811. A significant difference in the flax samples necessitated a second trip to the Cannonball River in 1819 for additional collection. 

War of 1812 tensions resulted in conflict on the Missouri River between the Arikara, Cheyenne, and the American Fur Company. There was a conflict at the mouth of the Cannonball River in 1812. 

A devasting flood in 1825 on the Missouri River floodplain resulted in the drowning deaths of over one hundred Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna men, women, elders, and children, and several hundred of their horses. All were buried on a hill across the river from the north bank Big River Village. This hill is sometimes submerged in Lake Oáhe, and is now located roughly halfway across the span of the present lake. 

Prince Maximillian von Wied-Neuwied spent probably the most time at the Cannonball River, describing what he saw, more than any other explorer or trader to date, and noted significant geological findings there in 1833. 

In 1837, the Húŋkpapȟa camp was struck by an epidemic of smallpox there on the flood plain, the west side of the Missouri River, at the Cannonball River confluence. 

After constructing Fort Rice in the summer of 1864, Gen. Alfred Sully began his punitive campaign against the "Sioux" at the mouth of the Cannonball River, July 29, 1864. 

The historic Cannonball Ranch, established at the same time as Fort Rice, was instrumental in developing the ranching traditions and western lifestyle on the Northern Great Plains. This historic ranch was inducted into the ND Cowboy Hall of Fame in 1999.

None of this is mentioned in the Class III survey report. Reports are supposed to be exhaustive: "An intensive inventory is a systematic, detailed field inspection done by, or under the direction of professional architectural historians, historians, archeologists, and/or other appropriate specialists." 

The ND SHPO has updated their Cultural Resources Identification, Recording and Evaluation page to reflect their process. "A location of five or fewer artifacts and identified by the archaeologist(s) as representing an area of very limited past activity may be recorded as an isolated find." The Class III Survey Report submitted by Energy Transfer flags over forty artifacts recorded by the survey team in the mouth of the Cannonball area alone.

ND SHPO continues: 
A location of five or fewer artifacts and identified by the archaeologist(s) as representing an area of very limited past activity may be recorded as an isolated find. The map detailing the Dakota Access Pipeline's route where the pipeline is to cross under Lake Oáhe flags fifty artifacts on both sides of the river. I can not publish an image of the map because it may result in "disturbance of the resource."

Site leads refer to resources that lack sufficient information to fully record and complete all necessary data fields on the North Dakota Cultural Resources Survey (NDCRS) site forms. Examples of site leads include: (1) locations recorded from various historic documents, (2) locations reported by a landowner or other non-professional, (3) a location with five or fewer surface visible artifacts which, in the professional judgment of the archaeologist(s), is likely to be a limited surface expression of a former occupation area where most of the artifacts are still buried, and/or (4) locations recorded by a cultural resource specialist outside of their project area(s), and thus not fully recorded. Clearly the Cannonball River is more than a "site lead," with over a dozen native and non-native primary resource documents, and at least two Ph.D.'s who've written about the Cannonball in their works, one a world-renowned archaeologist, and the other won a Pulitzer Prize in 2016 about the Mandan and their earliest record of that historic nation at the Cannonball River. 

These two Ph.D's have found enough material, physical and historical, and most importantly, significant, enough to include data and construct narrative about the Cannonball River Village sites. It's for the ND SHPO to say, "Move along. There's nothing to see here. Please disperse." 

The preliminary evaluation of all cultural resources identified within the study area should be made in sufficient detail to provide an understanding of the historical values that they represent...Only the lead agency and North Dakota State Historic Preservation Office, through consultation, can provide a final determination of eligibility (DOE) on cultural resources in North Dakota. 

The class III survey report has raised no flags. The events mentioned above can be found in various resources at the ND State Archives, ND State Library, the Stanley Ahler collection at the ND SHPO, on the ND Studies website, and as books for sale at the ND Heritage Center and State Museum Gift Store. 

Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Changing Landscape, How To Pronounce Oahe

Oahe Reservoir Area, Missouri River, North & South Dakota, NPS.
A Changing Landscape
Displacement And Site Names

By Dakota Wind
Cannonball, N.D. (TFS) – The only time the Mníšoše (Water-Astir; Missouri River) should not flow, is after Wazíya (The Power Of The North) has blown his cold wind across the land and has frozen the waterways. That is the natural cycle of the earth.

In 1872, Thomas Riggs, an Indian missionary, arrived in Dakota Territory and established Hope Mission. Two years later, Riggs moved the mission to Peoria Bottoms and referred to this new mission as the Oahe Indian Mission. The mission school served students from Standing Rock, Cheyenne River, and Rosebud until it closed in 1914. (Note: see glossary to learn how to pronounce "Oahe".)

Riggs’ name for the Oahe Indian Mission, was inspired by his father, Stephen Riggs, also a missionary and author of A Dakota-English Dictionary. A possible explanation for Riggs’ naming of his mission was that the meaning of Oahe is similar to the naming of Simon to Peter, who is renamed in Matthew 16:18: “…and on this Rock will I build my church.” The Dakota word for Foundation is Oáhe, meaning, “Something To Stand On.”

Oahe Indian Mission at Peoria Bottom, Dakota Territory. NPS

A likelier possibility for Riggs’ mission name may come from the fact that his mission was established at a well-used steamboat landing on the floodplain of the Missouri River at Peoria Bottom, S.D. The steamboat landings were called: Wátapȟeta Oáhe (lit. “Boat-Fire Something-To-Stand/Land On”).

The Mníšoše was a whirling river, dangerous to those who didn’t know it or respect its waters. It swirled where tributaries converged with it, and river crossings were made upstream of the whirlpools. The river ran brown because of all the sediment picked up by the stirrings. Steamboat traffic referred to the river as the “Big Muddy.” Water drawn from the river had to settle a day before using it. 

Herd of bison on the Missouri River by Karl Bodmer. 

The first nations who lived along the river were well aware of the annual spring floods. The sedentary tribes built their villages above the flood plain and farmed the rich bottomlands. The spring floods were difficult to anticipate too. The tragic flood of 1825, at the point opposite of the mouth of Íŋyaŋ Iyá Wakpá (“Talking Stone River”), also called Íŋyaŋwakaǧapi Wakpá (“Stone-Makes-For-Itself River”), or the Cannonball River, is a testament to the unpredictability of the river. 1825 is remembered by the Húŋkpapȟa as Mní wičhát’tÁ, or “Many Died By Drowning.”

The location of the flood was known after as Étu Pȟá Šuŋg t’Á, or “Dead Horse Head Point,” in memory of all the horses that drowned in a line there. Their deceased loved ones and their dead horses were interred where the camp was located, which was on a rise in the Mníšoše valley, opposite of the Cannonball River. That rise would later become an island which is sometimes submerged under the waters of Lake Oahe. 

Ronald Campbell at Pierre, S.D., where the Missouri River once ran free, July 1958. 

In 1948, the United States Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) began construction of the Oahe Dam and finished in 1959. The Oahe Indian Mission was moved to an area above the projected floodplain overlooking the dam, and the dam took its name from the mission. During those eleven years, salvage archaeology surveys were conducted where the lake was projected to submerge them.

The dams were constructed with an eye towards flooding reservation bottomlands. The only tribal consultation the USACE did with first nations was to inform tribes dams were going to be built to control the annual flooding and to offer tribes a one-time payment for the federal land grab. There was no negotiation. In fact, the first nations didn't even have some of the most basic rights as Americans. Pipelines and power lines were put in place without tribal consultation. The first nations had no political voice in the process.

In a discussion with Lekší Kevin Locke, Lake Oahe, has a darker connotation. When the flood came, it rose and receded, then rose more with each passing year. During the rising flood, buildings that were left behind on the bottomlands gradually fell apart leaving only the foundations, or Oáhe. 

A stone similar to this Standing Rock was placed on a pedestal in Fort Yates, N.D.

Back at the mouth of Íŋyaŋ Iyá Wakpá, there lived a Húŋkpapȟa man called Čhaŋtópȟeta (“Fireheart”). Agent McLaughlin selected Čhaŋtópȟeta to bring Íŋyaŋ Wosláta, the actual Standing Rock, into Fort Yates, the agency headquarters, so that it would serve as some kind of memorial. Instead, Čhaŋtópȟeta brought in a regular stone to fool the wašíču.

During the reservation era, the creek that converges with Iŋyáŋ Iyá Wakpá near the Mníšoše confluence was named Čhaŋtópȟeta Wakpála, or “Fireheart Creek,” after the man.

The first nations have stood in defiance of extinction and continuous dispossession of land, water, and sky. The settler has taken hold of Makȟóčhe Wašté (The Beautiful Country) and renamed the landscape and waters. This process is called oblivion, an intentional generational process of forgetting the landscape as the indigenous knew it, and replacing it until it is utterly forgotten. Some places still keep their names as the indigenous called them, mispronounced and bastardized, these contemporary place names are spoken. 

The ancestal homeland of the Yanktonai lay east of the Missouri River. Taken in Cannonball, N.D.

Regarding the rampant mispronunciation of traditional landscape names, Lekší Louie Garcia says this, “These news guys go out of their way to get the correct pronunciation of all these world leaders and places, but when it comes to our Native [sic] names- anything goes. I hope you and other Lakota speakers will start a campaign to correctly pronounce Oáhe.”

The late Rev. Innocent Good House (Húŋkpapȟa), an Episcopal minister for several years on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation recalled the Mníšoše of his youth, “An Indian believes the waters of a river should flow.” The river and lake are blue today. In summer they sparkle in the summer sun and in winter gleam like a knife's edge. There are recreation opportunities on the lake, but the living memory of the whirling river is nearly gone. 

Any development on the Mníšoše are land grabs and come at the expense of the first nations. The USACE were bold aggressors in the 1950’s, and are insincere on their promises at the present time. 

GLOSSARY of Lakȟóta terms and names:
Čhaŋtópȟeta (chahn-TOH-phay[glottal on “h”]-tah): “Fireheart.” Never “CAN-toh-pet-ah.”

Čhaŋtópȟeta Wakpála (chahn-TOH-phay[glottal on “h”]-tah wahk-PAH-lah): “Fireheart Creek.”

Étu Pȟá Šuŋg t’Á (ay-TOO PHA[glottal on “H”] shoong t’AH): “Dead Horse Head Point.”

Húŋkpapȟa (HOONK-pahp-hah[glottal on first “h” of this syllable]). “Head Of The Camp Circle.” Hunkpapa. Never “HUNK-pah-pah.”

Íŋyaŋ Iyá Wakpá (EEN-yahn ee-YAH wahk-PAH): “Talking Stone River.” Cannonball River.

Íŋyaŋwakaǧapi Wakpá (EEN-yahn-wah-kah-gah[glottal on “g”]-pee wahk-PAH): “Stone Makes For Itself [as in “production”] River.” Cannonball River.

Íŋyaŋ Wosláta (EEN-yahn wohs-LAH-tah): “Rock Standing-Upright.” Standing Rock.

Lekší (lek-SHEE): “Uncle.”

Makȟóčhe Wašté (mah-KHO[glottal on “H”]-chay wash-TAY): “The Beautiful Country.” This is the Lakȟóta way of saying “North America,” or “The Great Plains.” Contemporary Lakȟóta are rather inclined to use Khéya Wíta, “Turtle Island,” for North America.

Mníšoše (mih-NEE-sho-shay): “The Water-Astir.” The Missouri River.

Mní wičhát’tÁ (mih-NEE wee-CHAHT TAH): “Water They-Died.” They drowned.

Oáhe (oh AH-hay): “Something To Stand On.” Foundation. Never “O-wah-hee.”

Wašíču (wah-SHEE-chu): “A non-native person or people.” Anglo.

Wátapȟeta Oáhe (WAH-tah-pay[glottal on “p”]-tah oh-AH-hay): “Fire Boat Foundation.” Steamboat Landing.

Wazíya (wah-ZEE-yah): “Power Of The North.” The North Wind.


Cerny, Jan. Lakota Sioux Missions, South Dakota. Mount Pleasant, SC: Arcadia, 2005.

Riggs, Stephen, ed. A Dakota-English Dictionary. 1890 Reprint ed. St. Paul, MN: Minnesota Historical Society Press, 1992.

Garcia, Louie. Oahe., February 8, 2017.

High Dog. The High Dog Winter Count. n.p., 1911. Muslin cotton. State Historical Society of North Dakota.

National Park Service. “Oahe Reservoir: Archeology, Geology, History.” September 2008. Accessed February 9, 2017.

Locke, Kevin. Something To Stand On. August 2013.

Balmer, Randall. “Torpedo The Dams - And Free The Rivers.” December 15, 2012. Accessed February 9, 2017.

Friday, February 3, 2017

A 2017 Lakota Moon Calendar

The Lakȟóta call her, the moon, Haŋwíŋ. The Húŋkpapȟa say that when the full moon wanes, a large mouse with a long nose is nibbling away at her lodge. When her lodge is completely gone, Haŋwíŋ then reconstructs her lodge until full again. 
A 2017 Lakota Calendar
Thirteen Months In Year

By Dakota Wind
Fort Yates, ND (TFS) – Before the reservation era, each Thítȟuŋwaŋ (Teton; Western Sioux, or Lakȟóta) band had a winter count keeper. The keeper kept track of the years with a pictographic record (the winter count), and kept track of the months with a stick, or sticks.

Raymond Winters (Standing Rock; Matȟó KhízA Wičhá, or “Man Fighting Bear”), known in the art world by his signature of "Fighting Bear," served as an advisor for the beautifully illustrated children’s book “Moonstick: The Seasons of The Sioux.” According to Winters, one stick was used, and with each wit’é (the new moon), a notch was cut into the stick at one end. 

Gratify yourself and get a copy today. Not just for children, this book is informational for grown adults as well.

When the new year begins differs from band to band. Some say the new year begins and ends with the first snowfall of winter. Some say that the new year begins with the summer solstice. Others say the new year begins in the spring when the geese have returned, when the bison cows have their calves, when the leaves begin to unfold, when the ice breaks, or when the meadowlark sings aloud, “O’iyókiphiyA! Ómakȟa Théča Yeló! [Take pleasure! The earth is made anew!].”

No matter what each band may consider when the new year begins or ends, one thing is certain. The year is regarded by all as waníyetu (a winter), for winter is the longest season on Makȟóčhe Wašté (The Beautiful Country).

This writer has constructed a 2017 calendar based on the traditional thirteen lunar month system of the Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta and Iháŋktȟuŋwaŋna Daȟóta people. Each month begins with wit’é. This calendar is for educational purposes only, and not for sale. It is for use by the general public. 

A morning sundog appears above the Missouri River (Lake Oahe) in front of the Standing Rock Administrative Building in Fort Yates, ND. 

A winter evening at the north end of the Burnt Hills range on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. 

Near this natural feature along the Missouri River, the White Buffalo Calf Woman came to the Húŋkpapȟa Lakȟóta in the hour of their need and gave them bison calling songs. 

Canadian Geese make their return to the Great Plains in this wallpaper image. 

Hokšíčhekpa (A Child's Navel), or Pasque Flower blooms in springtime on the Great Plains. An ice age flower, she blooms sometimes when snow is still on the ground. She is also known as Wanáȟča Unčí (Grandmother Flower). 

Buttes reach the heavens between Wakpala S.D. and McLaughlin S.D. on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. 

Killdeer Mountain rises from the prairie like a step to heaven. A sacred place for generations and the site of the July 1864 General Sully assault on Lakȟóta who had nothing to do with the 1862 Minnesota Dakota Conflict. 

My grandmother's tree located between Kenel S.D. and Wakpala S.D. on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation. 

According to the Lakota Language Consortium's New Lakota Dictionary, an eclipse is called Aháŋzi (Shadow) or AóhanziyA (To Cast A Shadow Upon). The Húŋkpapȟa call this event Maȟphíya Yapȟéta (Cloud On Fire; Fire Cloud). There will be a solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. 

The North Dakota Badlands is featured here. It was a hot, hazy day. 

A spotted black horse grasses on what little grass is available along Long Soldier Creek on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation.

The annual Leonid Meteor Shower will be on Nov. 17 & 18, 2017. Don't miss it. 

They say that when a ring is around the moon, Haŋwíŋ has vigorously stirred her pot and light has spilled out and around her lodge. 

Download a zip file of this calendar.