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Seasons of the Indigenous Northeastern Tribes

How we recall the seasons of the year is often not just tied to societal norms, but also to where we live and how we experience the changing weather. Growing up in suburban Chicago, to me, fall was not just autumn decorations in store windows, but the sound of falling leaves and the feel of a cool October breeze.

The same was true for the Native American tribes I researched while writing THE FALCON, THE WOLF AND THE HUMMINGBIRD.

Here are some of the 13 seasons I learned about in AN ALGONQUIAN YEAR: THE YEAR ACCORDING TO THE FULL MOON by Michael McCurdy. Each tribe would have its own name for the various months:

  • January was The Hard Times Moon. Cold outside and smoky inside the wigwams where fires burned, this was the time to hunt wolves, moose and deer.

  • March was The Sap Moon in which women and kids would gather into sugar camps to collect the sap of various trees like the box elder, walnut, hickory, birch and sugar maple.

  • April was the Spearfish Moon. People would fish using wooden spears, dip nets and weirs, a latticework fence set across streams to capture fish. They’d often fish at night using torches to lure fish into nets.

  • July was The Ripening Moon where thunderstorms frequently occurred. Kids and women would weed family garden patches and chase away birds while men would tend their tobacco plants.

What season do you love best and why?

Fall is my favorite time, even here in California, because the colder nights and browning leaves still fill me with that wistful feeling of a summer now gone.

For those who are interested, I found the graphic for The Moon of the Hard Times on the Mountain Journal website in an article by Louis Red Elk in which she includes her poem by the same name.

Here’s the beginning:

Takes me to Waziyata, the northern reaches
of winter, where rivers freeze, where snow is
born. I think of relatives, their survival and
dependence on each other. I stand with shovel
in hand, my gloves are ragged, wet, stiff, hands
cold, as tired breath of crystals float into the trees. 
I look up and have seen this place/time before.


For updates about Martha’s forthcoming books, news and giveaways, subscribe to her website:

THE FALCON, THE WOLF AND THE HUMMINGBIRD a historical novel, Sept. 19, 2023

BLISS ROAD, a memoir



GROWING GREAT CHARACTERS, a resource for writers

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