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The Lakota Moon Calendar

Native Americans treasure nature and earth.

Fast Facts:
Lakota Moon Calendar

  • Each year has 13 moons.
  • Each moon is 28 days long.
  • Each day represents a sacred part of Native American culture.
  • Nearly all tribal calendars begin in spring.
  • Every three years, an additional moon is added to the calendar.

The people’s close connection to nature is seen in their calendars.

Based on the moon cycles, the Native American year is divided in to 13 moons with each moon being 28 days long.

Though calendar types vary from tribe to tribe, nearly all tribal calendars begin in the spring; to Native people, spring symbolizes the start of a new year through the birth of new plant and animal life.

Every three years, an additional moon is added to help the Indian calendar coincide with traditional non-Indian calendars.

Some months in the Native American calendar have multiple names for moons. This could be caused by different tribes involved in naming moons, different translations of the same name or the overlapping of more than one moon in the same calendar month.

Spring Lakota Camp

Wetú — The Moons of Renewal and Growth (Spring)
Each spring, the camp circle moved to higher ground. Men fixed and created weapons and resumed hunting. Women gathered early berries and roots and repaired the tipis. Children enjoyed the warm weather after the confines of winter.

Magáksicaagli Wí — Moon When Ducks Come Back
Wíhákata Cépapi Wi — Moon of Making Fat
Wójupi Wi — Moon When the Leaves are Green

Summer Lakota Camp

Blokétu — The Warm Moons (Summer)
During summer, the camp circle followed the migrating buffalo and moved often. Women worked to maintain the camp and were responsible for transporting and unpacking the family’s belongings; they also prepared food and made and set up tipis. Girls helped gather firewood and water and received instruction in quillwork decoration. Boys practiced their hunting skills on small animals. Men made weapons, hunted for game and defended the camp. Summer was also a time of celebrations and ceremonies.

Wípazuka Wasté Win — Moon of the June Berries
Canpásapa Wi — Moon When the Chokecherries Are Ripe
Wasúton Wi — Moon of the Harvest

Autumn Lakota Camp

Ptanyétu — The Moons of Change (Autumn)
As summer gave way to fall, the Lakota got ready for winter. Food was gathered to last the winter season. Women prepared meat from the buffalo that the men hunted. Underground storage caches were filled with dried meat and fruit, and large quantities of firewood were stocked.

Canwápegi Wi — Moon When the Leaves Turn Brown
Canwapekasna Wi — Moon When the Wind Shakes off Leaves
Waníyetu Wi — Moon of the Rutting Deer

Winter Lakota Camp

Waniyetu — The Cold and Dark Moons (Winter)
Winter signaled the beginning of a quieter time, during which a single camp site was used for the season. While women made and mended clothing, men went on raiding parties to ensure the camp’s safety and strength. Winter was also a time for fun. Children gathered around the fire to listen to the words of their grandparents. Lakota elders preserved community history by telling stories and recounting past times. There also was time for games, dancing and visiting.

Wanícokan Wi — Moon When the Deer Sheds Their Horns
Wiótehika Wi — The Hard Moon
Cannápopa Wi — Moon When Trees Crack From The Cold
Istáwicayazan Wi — Moon of Sore Eyes (Snow Blindness)

 

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