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Duninudi (October): Harvest Moon

OCTOBER: Harvest Moon Duninudi Time of traditional “Harvest Festival” Nowatequa when the people give thanks to all the living things of the fields and earth that helped them live, and to the “Apportioner” Unethlana. Cheno i-equa or “Great Moon” Festival is customarily held at this time.

A long this time in Autumn, we could have a few days of Indian summer. It is a tranquil time of warm sunlight with a bit of haze and soft breezes from the south. This is a token of childhood when bunches of sweet onions were hung on the garden fence to dry and pumpkins and squashes were in colorful piles. We would love this time to last longer–even anticipate that it will. But it is not likely that anything stands still at this time of year. It is too serene, too satisfying not to pass quickly. Maybe it teaches us the give and take of daily life–whether it is the weather or learning to be flexible where people are concerned. There are the pleasant days that we enjoy so much–and then there are those stormy days where we have to hunker down and ride it out.

–from “A Cherokee Feast of Days”, by Joyce Sequichie Hifler

“A furious tempest continually sweeps the crown of the mountain … the adventurer … even if he escapes … (may be) whirled through the air by its fearful blast.” –Sluskin

I received a notification this week (October 1, 2016) from that Carol Patterson’s marvelous paper entitled ““The Use of Indian Gesture Language for the Interpretation of North American Petroglyphs: A Trial Analysis.” has been uploaded. I had the honor of meeting Carol Patterson in Montrose, Colorado, at the Shavano Valley Rock Art Site. She graciously allowed me to film her describing and interpreting the petroglyphs. [ Click here to watch that video] (Note: there are three videos)

A few miles northeast of Montrose, Colorado, canyon walls look down on fertile Shavano Valley. Pecked onto the patina of Dakota Sandstone boulders are ancient petroglyphs crafted by hunter-gatherers recording the beliefs and preserving maps and history from 1000BC until AD 1881. The valley was popular through the centuries because of an artesian well and abundance of game. Ute trails converged at this site where the young could learn the history and traditions of their ancestors.

This is a preview of Shavano Valley Petroglyphs, Part 1 of a 5-part series: Tunnel Cave. Read the full post (460 words, 15 images, estimated 1:50 mins reading time)

In 1451, according to many scholars, a solar eclipse marked the founding of the confederacy of Iroquois Nations. This momentous event marked the joining of the five Iroquois nations of Oneida, Mohawk, Cayuga, Onondaga, the Seneca. Later the Tuscarora joined the Confederacy. The council of the nations would form a verbal constitution, written symbolically on wampum belts, known to them as Gayanashagowa, that would later influence the founders of Constitution of the United States including Benjamin Franklin, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson.

Franklin circulated copies of the 1744 Treaty of Lancaster. At the end of the document, the Six Nations leaders offer to share their democratic methods of government. John Rutledge is said to have read lengthy tracts of Six Nations law to the other framers, beginning with the words “We, the people, to form a union, to establish peace, equity, and order…” In October 1988, the U.S. Congress passed Concurrent Resolution 331 to recognize the influence of the Iroquois Constitution upon the American Constitution and Bill of Rights.

This is a preview of Preserving the Culture: Iroquois Great Law of Peace. Read the full post (12738 words, 10 images, estimated 50:57 mins reading time)

This is an election year (2016) and it may be a turning point for our country. The candidates represent very different ideals. The year 1828 was a major turning point for the Cherokee people and the preservation of Cherokee culture. It was the year that Andrew Jackson was elected president of the United States. President George Washington had initiated an almost forty year era of peace between the United States and the Cherokee Nation. In that short time, the Cherokee people had generally adopted the acculturation programs of Washington and had moved rapidly toward adopting the Euro-American way of life.

This is a preview of Preserving the Culture: Andrew Jackson. Read the full post (1250 words, 12 images, estimated 5:00 mins reading time)

Well, its October! According to an old Navajo tradition, we can now (October thru February) go into the Hogan a speak about the night sky. “The time of winter stories is considered to be a time of sharing and reflection when bears, reptiles, and insects are hibernating, and while plants are regenerating their potency for their next life cycle in the spring.” [Nancy C. Maryboy, David Begay, “Sharing the Skies, Navajo Astronomy”] This time of teaching ends with the first sound of Thunder ushering in spring.

Incidents of Travel: Maya Ruins. On a dark night in October, 1839, a wealthy attorney from New York and an architect from England, set sail on an adventure that they could not have imagined. The attorney, John Lloyd Stephens, had made his wealth as an author profiting from a trip to Europe for “health reasons”. He had acquired a “persistent streptococci throat” while politicking for Andrew Jackson. His doctor recommended a trip to Europe. While in Europe, he sent articles on “incidents of travel’ back to his friend at the American Monthly magazine which were quite successful. The influx of immigrants to America flooded all means of transport back home, so Stephens extended his travels to Egypt, Arabia, the Holy Lands, Petra, Turkey, Russia, Poland and eventually England. While visiting Jerusalem, he met Frederick Catherwood, an English architect trying to make a living drawing the ruins of Rome and sketching the architecture of the Holy Lands. Stephens purchased a map of the Holy Lands drawn by Catherwood and was so impressed by it that he later looked up Catherwood in England. They became great friends.

At that time, only three archaeological sites were known in Central America – Copan, Palenque, and Uxmal. No one connected the cities with any known culture and the name “Maya” was scarcely known. According to Victor Wolfgang von Hagen, who wrote an introduction for a re-printing of Stephen’s book, “Incidents of Travel in Yucatan”, “The acceptance of an indigenous ‘civilization’ demanded of an American living in 1839 a complete reorientation; to him an ‘Indian’ was one of those barbaric, half-naked tipi dwellers, a rude subhuman people who hunted with animal stealth.”

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