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The Way Blackfoot Reckon Time

As far as our information goes, the time of day was noted by the sun and the night by the position of Ursa major, the Seven Stars. The year was designated by the winter, each winter constituting a new year. Two divisions or seasons were recognized; spring and autumn were regarded as originating with the whites. Each season was considered as composed of moons; the period during which the moon was invisible taken as the beginning of another moon. We found little consistency in the nomenclature of moons, our information implying that they were considered more by numerals than by names. The tendency was to count the moons from about October, the beginning of winter or the New Year. Variation seems to have been due to the fact that calendar counts were kept by a few individuals, usually medicine men, who modified the system according to their own theories. One man who kept a calendar gave the following list: – Winter Moons Summer Moons 1. Beginning winter moon Beginning summer’s moon 2. Wind moon Frog moon 3. Cold moon Thunder moon 4. Two-big-Sunday moon Big-Sunday moon 5. Changeable moon Berry moon 6. Uncertain moon Chokecherry moon 7. Geese moon The references to Sunday are to the Christmas and July holidays of our own calendar. The year is generally regarded as comprising fourteen moons equally divided among the two seasons. As calendars were usually in the keeping of men owning beaver bundles and the number seven was employed in enumerating parts of their rituals, this division of the year into moons may be a matter of convention rather than observation....

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