The Story of the Haida Calendar - P.O.W. Report

Saturday, September 8, 2018

The Story of the Haida Calendar

This is a post by Woody Morrison on the Tlingit and Haida People of Alaska Facebook Page:

(Haida Calendar)

Dr. Woodrow Ḵáawan Sangáa, BA, JD.

The X̱aadas divided the year into thirteen Lunar Months, each beginning on the second day of the New Moon; when the Moon looks three fingers wide. X̱aadas also observed and noted the position of Juuyáay (the Sun).

Each morning at Sáanglaan (dawn), when the rays from the rising Juuyáay (Sun) entered Sáa tláa gwíi (from the east) a Skáyts’aangw (knot-hole) in náay k’ulangáay (the wall of the dwelling) and lit the opposite wall, the spot was marked with charcoal. The resulting line of marks was ḵúng ḵugíinaay X̱aadas (the Haida calendar).

At each Solstice Juuyáay (the Sun) shines several days in succession at one end of the line and then starts moving back toward the other.

NOTE: When asking a person’s age we ask, "Giisdluu dáng tadaay g̱iidang?" How many Winters are you?

Thus our New Year began the second day of the first new moon after the Summer Solstice. However, if we follow the European custom our new year would begin with the second day of the first new moon after the Winter Solstice.

X̱aadas knew that the Lunar Year was shorter than the Solar, and corrected the discrepancy. If ḵúng kíiyatl’a’aay (the New Moon) on which the first (1st) or the seventh (7th) month was due to begin appears before the Sun has reached the Solstice, an extra ḵúng "Moon" is inter- calculated there, or rather the old month is doubled and made to extend over Sdáng ḵungáay (the two moons).

NOTE: A lunar month is 28 days, the above description is of 13 months- equals 364 days, with one extra day.

X̱aadas divided the year into thirteen lunar months, each beginning on the second day of the New Moon, when it "looks three fingers wide." This gives us 364 days with one extra day to account for; it is said that day was regarded as "the day when X̱aldangaa (a slave) could receive K’aayhlt’áay Jaat (Star Woman) for his spouse." - in short, the day when anything is possible.


Sángg - Winter

The Season from early November to early February =

This was also the time to catch shrimp. Dried fish was placed inside a weighted loose-woven basket and lowered to the ocean bottom, left to sit for an hour or so then pulled back up. The water flowing through the weave helped keep the shrimp inside the basket.. The primary diet at this time of the year was clams, cockles, rock oysters, periwinkles, chitons, abalone, giant mussels and giant barnacles.

December/January =
Shortly after the Winter Solstice, Taan-Kungaay (Black Bear Moon), while the Black Bears were in hibernation, the men would enter their dens. The meat was tender, the hunters could determine whether or not there were Cubs involved and, this is when the Bear's fur was the longest. This was also when the GuardHairs on Beaver, Mink, Marten and Land Otter were were long and, they were trapped, also Ptarmigan were hunted.

January/February = Month of the Noisy Geese (some wintered over - didn’t migrate south), also, the time when it was so cold one had to wrap a blanket around one’s self when defecating.

February/March = Month of Fat Geese.

Tomorrow we pick up with K'INTL'EILAAY - Spring

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