Native American Moon Names

With the coming of spring, we at AIANTA decided to do a little moongazing.

Obviously, with 573 federally recognized tribes, Native Hawaiians and even more state-recognized tribes throughout the country there is a nearly limitless supply of moon names. Here are just a few:

Please note, the months below are rough approximations of when each moon will appear. The concept of months only occurred post-colonization and most of these Tribal translations pre-date colonization and generally reflect the seasonality of lunar phases. Moon phases, in fact, were used as measurements of time.

January

Great Spirit Moon Gichimanidoo-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Start of the Winter Moon Maajii-bibooni-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
New Winter Moon Oshki-bibooni-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Someone’s Ears are Freezing Moon Teyakohuhtya’ks Oneida
Nisgówakneh Seneca

February

Suckerfish Moon Namebini-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Eagle Moon Migizi-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
When the Bear Cubs are Born Moon Makoonsag-gaa-nitaawaadi-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Midwinter Moon Tsha’tekohselha Oneida
Nis’ah Seneca

March

Hard Crust on the Snow Moon Onaabani-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Snowshoe Breaking Moon Bebookwedaagime-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Crow Moon Aandego-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Goose Moon Nika-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Sugar Making Moon Ziinsibaakwadooke-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
The Day is Cut in Two Moon Tewehnislya’ks Oneida
Niyó’not’à:h Seneca

April

Sugarbushing Moon Iskigamizige-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Frog Moon Omakakiiwi-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Snowshoe Breaking Moon Bobookwedaagime-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Loon Moon Maango-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
It’s Thundering Moon Wasakayutese Oneida
O’nót’ah Seneca

May

Budding Moon Zaagibagaa-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Flowering Moon Waabigoni-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Flowering Moon Waswwgone-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
They Plant Moon Latiy^thos Oneida
Ganö́’gat Seneca

June

Strawberry Moon Odemiini-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Gardening Moon Gitige-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Flowering Moon Waawano-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Strawberry Moon Aw^hihte Oneida
Yáikneh Seneca

July

Halfway Sumer Moon Abitaa-niibini-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Blueberry Moon Miini-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Raspberry Moon Miskomini-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Flying Moon Baashkawe’o-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
String Bean Moon Ohyotsheli Oneida
Sáísgekneh Seneca

August

Ricing Moon Manoominike-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Blackberry Moon Odatagaagomini giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Flying Moon Basikwa’o giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
New or Fresh Corn Moon On^tase Oneida
Gëdë́’ökneh Seneca

September

Leaves Turning Moon Waatebagaa-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Corn Moon Mandaamini giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Moose Moon Moozo giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Someone Harvests Moon Yey^thokwas Oneida
Hayë́:neah Seneca

October

Falling Leaves Moon Binaakwe-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Someone Stores Food Moon Yutekhway^he Oneida
Gä́nohdo’k’ah Seneca

November

Freezing Over Moon Gashkadino-Giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Whitefish Moon Adikomemi-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
They Give Thanks Moon Tehut^nuhelatuhe Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Gahsá’kneh Seneca

December

Little Spirit Moon Manidoo-Giizisoons Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
Big Winter Moon Gichi-bibooni-giizis Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe)
It’s a Long Night Moon Wahsutes Oneida
Joto:h Seneca
Disappearing Languages

According to UNESCO, approximately 600 languages have disappeared in the last century.

More alarmingly, they continue to disappear at a rate of one language every two weeks. If this pace continues, up to 90 percent of the world’s languages are likely to disappear before the end of this century.

In early February, the United Nations proclaimed 2019 to the year of Indigenous Languages. For more information, visit https://en.iyil2019.org/ or follow the hashtag #IY2019.

Language Resources

American Indian Language Development Institute

Northwest Indian Language Institute

Indigenous Language Institute

Consortium of Indigenous Language Organizations

Advocates for Indigenous California Language Survival

Content, Corrections and Additions

The words and phrases in this post were provided by members of the various tribes listed and we offer our deepest thanks for all who assisted us with this story, with a special shout out to Gerry J. at Seneca Nation of Indians for going above and beyond.

Spellings and translations may vary. Some words may be missing accents or symbols due to limited characters on a keyboard. We’re happy to add your language and/or hear corrections and suggestions on spellings and translations, so please contact us at info@aianta.org.

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