Haŋwíyawapi Wičhóȟ'aŋ Kiŋ The Moon Counting Tradition by Dakota Wind
Winter Count Keepers kept track of time by following natural changes in the environment and naming the moon in which that moon became associated.
Months were moons, and thirteen moons represented a winter. The Očhéthi Šakówiŋ (the Seven Council Fires; the "Great Sioux Nation") called a cycle of thirteen moons a winter because winter was the longest season on the Northern Plains.
A moon could have many names. The Wolf Moon one year may be called the Moon of Popping Trees the next. The Yellow Leaf Moon among the Lakȟóta might also be called the Brown Leaf Moon; this same moon among the Dakhóta would be called the Moon When Rise is Laid Up to Dry.
The historic Lakȟóta held a world-view perspective that was south-oriented. Taking this into account, then the rotation of the moon and the rotation of the earth around the sun would give us a moon calendar layout that looks like the poster above with the cycle of the moons and the phases of the moons "read" in a counter-clockwise manner.
Of course, the traditional Lakȟóta would never have laid out images like this, rather, the winter count keeper kept track of the moons with counting sticks.
Dakota Wind is an enrolled member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. He is a student at North Dakota State University in Fargo, working on a graduate degree in history. Dakota has written for various journals and magazines, and a recent paper of his appears in Karl Skarstein’s “The War With The Sioux,” 2015, for a free e-copy visit The Digital Press. He occasionally maintains the history blog The First Scout.