mihšiiwia kiilhswa ‘Elk Moon’

Mihšiiwia Kiilhswa ‘Elk Moon’ is named for the Eastern American elk (Cervus canadensis canadensis). In the 1400s, it is estimated that mihšiiwia had the greatest range of any hoofed species in North America. But this dispersed and large population diminished quickly in the years following European settlement. By the 1840s, no Eastern elk subspecies could be found in the state of Indiana. In 1880, the Eastern elk was declared extinct in North America. Mihšiiwia were larger than Roosevelt elk, which are found out west in the United States. Adult Eastern American elk males could weigh as much as 1,000 pounds and often grew to five feet tall at the shoulder.

Lithograph of Eastern American Elk (Cervus canadensis canadensis) by John J. Audubon
Lithograph by John J. Audubon courtesy of Brooklyn Museum

To the best of our knowledge, this month is associated mihšiiwia’s mating season (roughly August and September). During mating season, the woodlands around the Wabash River would fill with the sounds of male elk bugling, which is used to call out to females and warn off competing males. Listen to an elk bugle in this video. The mihšiiwia’s close cousin, the Roosevelt elk, has been introduced to the woodlands east of the Mississippi, and so it is possible that in a few generations we may once again hear the bugling of Elk along the Wabash.