Aanteekwa Kiilhswa ‘Crow Moon’ is the second month of the Myaamia lunar calendar. It is named for the American crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos), which usually nests and breeds during this month. During the winter months, aanteekwaki ‘crows’ often gather in large groups but as the nesting period begins this behavior comes to an end. In the midwest, aanteekwaki are some of the earliest birds to build nests and lay eggs. Like the other lunar months named for birds, Aanteekwa Kiilhswa typically occurs during the transition from pipoonwi ‘winter’ into niipinwi ‘summer.’  During Aanteekwa Kiilhswa maple sugaring often reaches its height. But by the end of this lunar month, the Sugar maple trees have usually budded and the sugaring season comes to a close.

aanteekwa*

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*American crow image from wikimedia commons

Mahkwa Kiilhswa ‘Black Bear Moon’ is one of two lunar months named for the American black bear (Ursus americanus).  It typically occurs between late December and early February in the Gregorian calendar. To the best of our knowledge, this month is associated with mature female bears giving birth to their cubs.  Female American black bears have a litter of cubs every 2 years, and litters range from 1-5 cubs.  Following birth, cubs stay with their mother for 1-2 years. Mahkooki ‘American black bears’ were an important source of food for Myaamia people, with bear tenderloin being a particular delicacy.  Mahkwa also plays a prominent role in Myaamia aalhsoohkaana ‘Winter Stories.’

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Ayaapia Kiilhswa ‘Buck Moon’ is one of two lunar months named for the White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus).  To the best of our knowledge, this month is associated with the end of the rut (breeding cycle) and the older males losing their antlers.

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ayaapia (White-tailed Deer buck)*

Today, there is a lot of variation within White-tailed Deer populations regarding when bucks drop their antlers.  It appears that historically, the older White-tailed Deer bucks dropped their antlers after younger males.  The loss of antlers marks the end of the rut (the breeding cycle) for these more mature male deer.

*photo from http://www.ars.usda.gov/is/graphics/photos/may01/k5437-3.htm

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The arrival of teekwahkahki ‘frost’ signals the end of niipinwiki ‘summer’ and the beginning of peepoonki ‘winter.’ The hard frost occurs during the period of seasonal transition called teekwaakiki ‘autumn’ in Myaamiaataweenki. This frost typically kills off the last of the green growth on plants and animals start to become less active. From a Myaamia cultural perspective, the dormancy of amphibians, especially tree frogs, is a key indicator of peepoonki.

Photo by Vincent van Zeijst via Creative Commons

aašoošiwia neehi teekwahkahki ‘nettle and frost’

The decreased temperatures that arrive with peepoonki ‘winter’ also make thunderstorms far less common. From a Myaamia point of view, there is an important cultural connection between the arrival of teekwahkahki ‘frost,’ the quieting of the frogs, and the absence of regular thunderstorms; together these things indicate that it is time to tell aalhsoohkaana ‘winter stories.’

Kiiyolia Kiilhswa ‘Smokey Burning Moon’ is one of two moons focused on the cultural fires that Myaamia people used to shape their environment.  Historically, grass and underbrush were dry enough during this month for the burning of larger and hotter fires. Myaamia people regularly burned the woods and prairies in the regions around their villages. These fires benefited the larger trees of the hardwood forests of our homelands and the mammals and birds who lived there.

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The Beech-Maple and Oak-Hickory forests of our traditional homelands often appeared “park-like” to Euro-American settlers, but these healthy hardwood forests were the result of regular burning from both human lit fires and lightning strikes. Over 1000’s of years, the trees and understory – shrubs, bushes, flowers, fungi, and ferns – of these forests evolved to prefer environments that experienced regular burns.

Today, many forest management experts agree that the absence of fire has negatively affected the health of hardwood trees and greatly changed the understory species present in these forests.

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