Living by Indian Time

plains indian woman and child         The Plains Indians measured distance and travel time by “sleeps” (one night = one sleep).
          They marked the passage of time by moons and winters. The first night of a new moon was the start of a new period of time (or a month). 
          A year began with the first snowfall.
          Each year was identified by a significant event: the death of a certain chief, a sickness that affected many people, a great battle with an enemy, particularly abundant or scarce food, lack of snow or particularly heavy snow.
          A year with no significant events might be identified by something as simple as the location of winter camp that year.
          An Indian marked his birth by the event that defined that year. He counted his age by the number of winters he had lived.

From: Our Wild Indians: Thirty-three Years of Personal Experience Among the Red Men of the Great West by Richard Irving Dodge, A.D. Worthington and Company, Hartford, CT, 1882, page 396.


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