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Anvyi [March]: The Windy Moon

March, the Windy Moon, Anvyi. The “First New Moon” after the equinox is the traditional start of the new cycle for planting. New town council fires are made. and all the fires of the villages are extinguished and relit from the sacred council fire.

A Cherokee Feast of Days, Joyce Sequichie Hifler, March 14

Few things can dominate nature when she is about to make a change. Relentless and determined, she has a plan and it may take a few runs before the door is slammed on winter–but it is coming quickly. A subtle greening has begun in sheltered places. the wild rose canes laid flat by cold winter winds are no longer gray. Purple striped dayflowers and tiny four-petal blue-eyes bloom profusely with a minimum of sunlioght and warm air. The wild strawberry known to Cherokees as “a ni”, has put out new leaves, and we see the eternal miracle that never grows old–the new baby calf. When frost put down the flowers and stopped the birds from singing last fall, spring seemed far away. Now she is knocking on the door, and if we answer her with seeds she will hide again. but not for long. We just need a little time to prepare. If we are to see it all, we must begin now.

Chief Joseph — “We were content to let things remain as the Great Spirit made them.”

Twice a year, a day comes along where the length of daylight equals the length of darkness. Today we call that day the “equinox”. We recognize the vernal equinox as the first day of spring and the autumnal equinox as the first day of fall. These two days have always been important indicators for man since even ancient times.

Before Europeans came to America, Native Americans did not have bankers, insurance agents, or real estate agents so where did they get their calendars? How did they know when spring or fall arrived? They had someone more important to them than our bankers or agents are to us, they had astronomers.

This is a preview of Native American Skies: Perceiving Spring. Read the full post (831 words, 14 images, estimated 3:19 mins reading time)

Recently, I received a surprise package in the mail simply addressed to “Native American Antiquity” from “Capt. David L. Hicks”, perhaps more formally known as Chief Utsidihi D. L. Hicks, principal chief of the “Texas Cherokees”. Chief Utsidihi had read my articles on the Texas Cherokees in the “Preserving the Culture Series“. He sent me a copy of his wonderful book, “Tsalagi Beginnings, Religion and Customs” and signed, “Osiyo, Brother, Keep the faith and press on … Wado, Ugu”.

In honor of the great work the chief and others are doing in East Texas to restore and preserve the Texas Cherokee Heritage, I would like to share with you a section from his book entitled “Lighting the Annual New Fire” which was a ceremony celebrated during the Windy Moon, Anvyi:

When the cold of winter had left the land and the warm winds from the south had melted the ice and snow, and the flowers began to cover the meadows of the mountains and valleys, the Anidawehi called the people together for an event that was one of the most sacred to the Tsalagi. That was the annual extinguishing of the Ayeski (Old Fire) and lighting of the Gata (New Fire). This took place in Tsiloni (Flower Time), when all the cold and wintry things were gotten rid of. The ceremony was held on or just before the new moon.

The Fire Maker took his fire sticks and made a fire. The fire was made outside the Town House in the flat lands beside the mound. He used the seven woods of the Tsalagi. When the fire was built, fire was given to a member of each household by the Fire Maker. The new fire lit a fire in the fire pit of a home that was to remain burning for the rest of the year. If a home fire was extinguished for any reason, the Fire Maker was called to make another fire for the family in the same manner he made the original fire.

The New fire ceremony preceded the most important times of the Tsalagi people, the planting season, growing season, and harvest season. The cold season would not be broken if there was no New Fire Ceremony, and the cold spells would not return to the north and spring would not begin without a fire of Ataya (Principal Wood), or “Oak”, and Telulati (Summer Grape).

During New Fire ceremony, all war parties and hunting parties remained in camp. The only hunting parties to go forth were those sent out by the Anidawehi to bring in meat for the ceremony. All traders returned from their travels, and diplomats returned to their towns. All offenders of Clan Law were free to leave their sanctuaries and were given amnesty for all wrongs committed that year. No one could seek vengeance on them for any reason. A new year had begun and all was forgiven. The new year was fresh and clean. The new year was to bring life, not death and sorrow. the people performed “go to water” for purification.

Key Dates in Native American History:

On March 30, 1870, the Fifteenth Amendment was ratified. It recognized the natural right of all MEN to vote, including Native American men. But not women.

March 12, 1831, Missionary Samuel Worcester and several other missionaries were arrested when they refused to obtain a license to reside among the Cherokees as required by a recently passed Georgia law. In September they were convicted and sentenced to four years in the state prison. Then Mar 3, 1832, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the case of Worcester v. Georgia that the Georgia law requiring white residents to obtain a license violated the political rights of the Cherokees. The Court ruled that the Cherokees were a separate nation, subject to the authority of the federal government––but only the federal government––as stipulated by treaties. In response to the decision, President Andrew Jackson reportedly replied, “John Marshall [Supreme Court Justice] has made his decision; now let him enforce it!”

[to learn more read “Preserving the Culture” series, specifically “The Trail of Tears” article in Native American Antiquity]

March 3, 1871, Congress passed the “Indian Appropriation Act” which stated that no tribe thereafter would be recognized as an independent nation eligible to make treaties with the U. S. Government. This meant that Native American issues would not be negotiated with Native American tribes or nations, but rather would be determined by passing Congressional statues or executive orders. This essentially made Native Americans wards of the state eliminating their rights as sovereign nations.

March 11, 1907, Chaco Culture National Historical Park was established. [Read the series of articles on the enchanting park in Native American Antiquity]

In the heart of New Mexico there is an arid canyon called Chaco Canyon that was once the center of the Anasazi culture. In this canyon stands an ominous butte called Fajada (fa-ha-da) Butte. Atop this huge 450 ft-high formation are three large sandstone slabs that lean up against the southern wall. On the wall behind these huge stones, the Anasazi astronomers chiseled two large spirals. At noon every day the sun shines between the stones and casts shaft(s) of light across the spirals. Popularly called “daggers of light”, the dagger materialize before noon in the upper left of the spiral and then spread across the spiral to project a “dagger” covering the spiral and then clears off the spiral top to bottom. It is an amazing, almost magical occurrence.

This is a preview of Archaeoastronomy — Fajada Butte — Sun Daggers. Read the full post (641 words, 11 images, estimated 2:34 mins reading time)

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