- Indians had no calendar as the white man knows it, but some tribes did
keep a time record by the use of notched sticks or knots tied in a string,
while others kept a record by pictures painted on skins. among the
latter were the so called calendars of the Dakota and Kiowa. The
Dakota calendar, known as the "Lone Dog Winter Count," said to have originally
been painted on a buffalo robe, covered the events from 1800 to 1871 by
figures or pictures.
Indians divided their days into four periods
- the rising of the sun, noon, the setting of the sun and midnight.
Full days were known as "sleeps," or nights. Months were calculated
by moons, the month beginning on the new moon. An Indian thus spoke of
The year was made up of moons, some tribes
basing it on twelve moons others thirteen. The Creek counted twelve
and on half moons to the year, adding a moon at the end of every second
year. But almost all Indians spoke of a year as a winter.
Indians usually recognized four seasons,
which were either determined by the budding, blooming, leafing, and fruiting
of vegetables and plants, or the actions of birds and animals. Indians
of Virginia had five seasons: spring was when the buds appeared on the
trees; the next season was that of the earing of corn or roasting ear time;
summer came when the sun was the highest; fall was when the leaves fell
off and corn was gathered; and winter began with the first snow or frost.
Some tribes began their year with spring and others with fall.
Age was dated from some important event
in the history of the tribe or in nature itself which was within the memory
of the parents. Few Indians could calculate their age according to
years or winters.
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