mankiišaahkwa (Sassafras)

mankiišaahkwa (Sassafras)
Diana Steed

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)

As fall progressed, kiilhswa rises later and sets earlier and the tipehki kilhswa rises earlier as the days get shorter. This is because kiilhswa sets earlier and thus is darker. Tipehki kiilhswa appears to be brighter because it stays closer to the horizon and looks bigger.  First the temperature began to fall and teekwahkahki became more frequent. The anikwa (Grey Squirrel) become more active followed by aanteekwa and then moohswa. Moohswa begin to be active around the first teekwahkahki and at night were not afraid to venture into active human land. Anikwa were very fond of peesiaanikopa trees, as were aanteekwa. Aanteekwa flocked around the time the leaves started to fall and moohswa activity was also up.

The order I remember of the trees starting to drop leaves was kiinošiši, mihšiinkweemiši, aayoonseekaahkwi, mankiišaahkwi, and lastly, waawiipinkwaahkatwi, but there is some question as to the particular waawaawiipinkwaahkatwi being observed. The pyaakimišaahkwi (Persimmon) held onto its fruit very late, but like waawiipinkwaahkatwi, began to drop leaves and some berries after a couple light teekwahkahki. My tree, the mankiišaahkwi, was late to drop its leaves and started turning at the top first and down to the bottom where as the other trees seemed to start in random patches. The leaves fell in the same fashion, and very quickly (2 weeks maybe) where other trees seemed to be more drawn out.

At this time the anikwa activity was well into decline, and the aanteekwa also were quiet. I did observe some taapaahsia (Canadian Goose), but the actvity was not enough for me to set a definite period of activity; I think it must have been right around the first teekwahkahki, which makes sense as it was said in our discussion that they were in the sky when waawaawiipinkwaahkatwi began to fall. It took until mid November to get some ciinkwia, and now I have seen no animals, not even pihcitaki (little birds) in large groups heading south like there were a couple weeks ago.  Aciika neehi aciika alaankwa are slowly slipping from the sky and all the leaves are gone except from the evergreen trees.

Circle representing the connections Diana observed in 2009

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)

The sassafras tree I have been observing has sprouted leaves just as quickly as most of the trees and even before a few. I find this exciting since it seemed to be one of the last trees to drop leaves in the fall. In general animal activity picked up right with the increase in temperature and even fell slightly when the weather would turn cool for a few days. The smaller plants responded more quickly to the warm wind than the trees, and the trees seemed to bloom about the same time, but some faster than the others. The smaller animals like squirrels and birds seem to follow the temperature’s dips and climbs more closely than larger animals like deer who came out slowly and consistently.

The days are longer and the sun is higher. We have increased thunderstorms though I have seen on the weather channel that we are not having as many of them or as powerful ones because the northern front of cool air has not descended fully. There was a light frost the other morning, but it wiped off with great ease and was well on its way to melting after sun rise.

In the fall, my sassafras tree was one of the last to drop its leaves while Black Walnut was one of the first.  However, both trees budded out at the same time this spring.  The deer seem to be active just before the leaves drop and also before they sprout. I think both of these connections are cued by the drop in temperature and the frost. In the fall, the weather had a couple of days dipping into the 50’s and that is when the deer and other animals began preparation for fall, followed closely by the trees who cannot afford to drop their leaves so soon. Temperature decreases of course as the northern hemisphere tilts away from the sun and we receive less daylight. Similarly to the fall, the start of change in temperature cues animal activity and then the plants who must have a steady increase other wise risk loosing nutrients. My tree seems to start things a little later than the other trees and well after animal activity has settled.

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