Tȟaté’káoškokpa (Canyon Made-By-Wind), or Wind Canyon, along the Heȟáka Tȟa Wakpá (River Of Elk; Little Missouri River) in Makȟóšíća (Badlands, N.D.; Theodore Roosevelt National Park). Photo by The First Scout.
The Wind Is The Spirit Of The Great Plains
The Sky In Language: Spoken, Drawn, and Signed
THE GREAT PLAINS - The wind has been a constant presence on the open prairie since creation and has shaped the landscape. It races across the open sky with the summer and winter storms, and flows about the landscape playfully, fitfully, and angrily. It is the very essence of the Great Plains.
The Lakota have several words for the wind and its attributes such as tȟaté (air in motion), uyá (to blow leeward of the wind), kaȟwókA (to be carried along with the wind), ikápȟaŋyaŋ (to be beaten down by the wind, as with grass) or itáglaȟweya (with the wind). When a strong wind is present, or suddenly appears, during prayer or at a gathering, the wind might even be referred to as takú wakaŋ škaŋškaŋ (something with great energy is moving). A whirlwind is called tȟatéiyumni, which some regard as a sign that a spirit is present.
There is only one word to describe a windless day, ablákela (calm or quiet).
When the wind blows cold, such as it does in the winter months, the Lakota refer to it as tȟatóšni. The cold winter wind had a story of its own. In the days of legend, before steamboats an trains, before soldiers and missionaries, when the camps moved across the prairie steppe in the fall to establish winter camps, they told the story of Wazíya, that which some call a giant, or the Power Of The North. Wazíya blew his cold breath across the world.
They say as the summer wanes and turns to autumn, the wind changes with the weather. That change in the wind is the breath of North. The cold was and is deadly, never to be feared, but respected. The North spreads his robe across the sleeping land. The North makes hunting game easier to track. In fact, the Lakota used to dance in snowshoes in the blanket of the first snowfall. They rejoiced in the weather and embraced the deep cold.
In the spring, the wind signals another change. The Lakȟóta call this wind Niyá Awičhableze, The Enlightening Breath. This is the first spring wind upon which the meadowlarks return. It’s the time of year in which the Lakota carefully watch for the ice to break on the Mníšoše, the Water-Astir (Missouri River), the geese return, and when the bison bear their calves.