How time has shaped the traditions of this Native American culture
From satellites to radar to the FOX Weather app, there are multiple ways to get the weather.
However, long before weather technology was sent into space or shrunk down to fit in the palm of your hand, the weather was predicted using traditional methods.
“In most tribes in North America, we factor the weather into our way of life,” said Larry Yazzie, a member of the meskwaki nation from central Iowa. He said the tribe’s name means, “People of the Red Land”.
Several traditions of the Meskwaki are aligned with time and seasons, with different ceremonies taking place at different times of the year.
“For us, spring is the new year, a new beginning,” Yazzie said. “This is when we plant our corn, when we plant our crops. In the fall it’s when we harvest our crops – harvest our corn in the traditional way. We still do it today.”
According to Yazzie, the Meskwaki gauged the seasons by noting the behavior of animals.
“There is an old saying that whenever we hear frogs sing, spring is coming,” he said, adding that hearing certain birds around their homes is another way of indicating the arrival of spring.
Seasons have also been delineated using astronomical methods.
“The moon plays an important role in our way of life,” Yazzie said. “Our tribe, and I know many other tribes have certain ceremonies for the full moon.”
Preserve the planet
For Yazzie, remembering and sharing these stories and traditional methods is a way to help take care of the planet.
“We live on such a beautiful planet, which gives us life, happiness and love,” he said. “I want to make sure I’m doing my part and we’re creating a nice place for our childrenour grandchildren, our grandchildren’s children.”
“These stories (must) be passed on to generations so that we can continue to preserve our world that we live in today,” he added.
“The Super Bowl of all powwows”
Part of the storytelling involves festivals, such as the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
For nearly 40 years, Native tribes from across North America have gathered at the festival, which has become one of the largest powwows on the continent.
According to Yazzie, the Gathering of Nations is “the Super Bowl of all powwows.”
“It’s a great opportunity to learn about indigenous people,” he said. “We’re not just in the history books. We’re not just in museums. We’re alive, we’re here, and we celebrate life through music and dance.”
The Gathering of Nations and other events help preserve traditions closely linked to the preservation of the planet.
“If you look around, those trees, those plants, they’re life, they’re spirits,” Yazzie said. “That’s what we were taught as natives in our teachings and stories – that they are living spirits. They live and breathe as we live, breathe.”