What follows are recordings of student observations from kišiinkwia kiilhswa (July/August 2009) to cecaahkwa kiilhswa (April/May 2010). Each student was asked to observe one feature (plant, tree, animal, celestial body, or weather phenomena) and its connections to other features. In addition each student was asked to visually represent these connections by constructing a visual web.
niipinwi neehi teekwaaki (Summer and Fall)
During the semester my task was to observe the ecological perspectives of ciinkwia. Having ciinkwia I feel that it relates to and connects with many other factors on the ecological circle. There were only a few thunderstorms during the fall which made it more difficult to make constant observations like those who were observing trees and animals. Walking on my way home one night during ciinkwia I saw some moohswa running for cover under aayoonseekaahkwi. I recall that more ciinkwia seemed to take place when tipehki kiilhswa was present. It also seemed to take place once the leaves had started to fall on a variety of trees such as kiinošiši, waawiipinkwaahkatwi, and mihšiinkweemiši. Most trees tend to shed their leaves or nuts around the same time, unfortunately ciinkwia doesn’t always correspond with the same timing. Pipoonwi (winter) is mostly connected to storytelling but when I think of ciinkwia I also think of storytelling. It is a time when people must take shelter to stay dry and warm and the perfect thing to pass time would be to tell stories.
Depending on how severe the thunderstorm is the trees can suffer or benefit from the rain. When observing the different trees during ciinkwia I saw the leaves of ahsenaamiši and eeyoonsaaweekiša fall to the ground with the harshness of the rain as it hit the leaves. I also saw some nuts fall off aayoonseekaahkwi and kiinošiši because of the same reason. Although after ciinkwia clears up the next day I observed anikwa (Grey Squirrel) gathering some of those nuts.
It was challenging to observe ciinkwia due to the randomness of the storms, there is not an average time when the leaves should change and it’s not something I could observe on an everyday basis. Also with observing ciinkwia I was not only watch the storm but I was also observing all my surroundings to see how the animals reacted and how the trees connected. Most of the things from the ecological circle can relate or connect to ciinkwia in one way or another.
Click here to see the complete web created by all the students as well as the translations for all of the words on the circle.
pipoonwi neehi miloohkami (Winter and Spring)
I was not in Oxford to experience the first thunderstorm that some say marked the beginning of spring. On my drive back to Oxford after spring break I did notice a lot of changes. There was no more snow; instead most the harvested fields were flooded along with the ditches. Everything seemed to be greener, the grass was greener, most of the trees were starting to bud, and I think I even saw some flowers.
I walk through Bishop Woods almost every day and before we met there last week I thought to myself how much it had changed. It almost seemed to happen overnight and depending on which path you took some parts of the woods are greener and more produced than others. I even noticed some of the same things that I noticed when walking the trail near the Formal Gardens.
One important connection I have made to ciinkwia is the sun (kiilhswa). In the fall when I observed ciinkwia I realized since it gets darker quicker when I thought of ciinkwia I thought dark, gloomy, and almost depressing thoughts. In the spring, since I have been observing ciinkwia everything is so vibrant, the sun is shining, and everything feels so alive. It stays light later in the day than is did in fall so even when there is ciinkwia there is still a sense of the sun and how nice it is to have the rain.
The second important connection I made with ciinkwia was a cultural one, storytelling. In the spring the first ciinkwia marks the end of winter, which in turn marks the end of the storytelling season. During the fall I also related ciinkwia to storytelling but in a different way because storytelling was not ending it was beginning. When ciinkwia took place in the fall it was cooler and it made me want to stay in like I would during the winter and tell stories. This is something I would not have known had it been for this class and learning about my culture.