Thursday, February 26, 2015

Native American Skies: Lunar Standstill at Chimney Rock

During the month, the moon rises at different points across the eastern horizon.  When it reaches the farthest point north it pauses, or rises in the same spot for a couple of days, and then reverses course.  This pause is called a “Lunar Standstill”.  The same thing happens two weeks later at its farthest point south.   You may have noticed that the sun does the same thing, but it takes the sun a year to move from its farthest point north (Summer Solstice) to its farthest point south (Winter Solstice) and back again.  At each solstice, the sun pauses before reversing course and this is called a Solar Standstill. 

[refer to last week’s article: Native American Skies: Lunar Standstill]

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Native American Skies: Lunar Standstil

197px-Ecliptic_plane_3d_viewHave you noticed how fast the earth has been moving lately?  Probably not, but in fact the earth moves faster in the winter than in the summer.  The reason is because the earth moves around the sun in an elliptical orbit, not circular, so as the earth gets closer to the sun it speeds up and as it flies away from the sun it slows down.  In North America, the winter half of the year is approximately eight days shorter than the summer half.



Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Cherokee Valentine

Saturday is Valentines Day, a national holiday in the United States, but what does it mean to Native Americans?
For the Cherokee in ancient times, this time of the year was known as “Kagali”, or the “Bony
Moon”.  It has been said that the reason for the name stems from there being less food available so the people were chewing on the bones.  It was also a time for remembering the deceased, celebrated with fasting, a dance, and ritual observance led by the Uku or “Didanawiskawi” (medicine person).

Thursday, January 29, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 5: Arrogant and Proud Barbarians

Garcilasco de la Vega, "The Inca"
In his account of the Soto expedition, “The Inca” [see Part 1] gives what I believe to be the most accurate and eloquent account of the attitudes of the Spaniards towards the Indians, and the Indians towards the Spaniards I have ever read.  So, this week, I want to simply quote his articulate description of those attitudes.  Note: the Inca’s reference to “Acuera” does not agree with other chroniclers.  However, it was most likely the chief of the “Timucua” Indians that Soto was trying to befriend.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 4: Panfilo de Narvaez

Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca
Inspired by the stories of Cabeza de Vaca, who had survived in North America after becoming a castaway and just returned to Spain, in 1540,  Hernando de Soto petitioned the King of Spain and was appointed governor of Cuba and granted the right to explore and colonize North America [refer to Part 1].   Cabeza de Vaca had originally gone to Florida with Panfilo de Narvaez in 1527.   The King of Spain had granted Narvaez the right to explore and colonize Florida and de Vaca was his second in command.
Panfilo de Narvaez

Thursday, January 15, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 3: Ponce de Leon

Juan Ponce de Leon
Hernando de Soto was not the first to make contact with Native Americans in Florida.  As “The Inca” [Part 1] tells in his chronicles of the expedition, “The first Spaniard who discovered La Florida was Juan Ponce de Leon, a gentleman who was a native of Leon and a nobleman, having been governor of Puerto Rico.  Inasmuch as the Spaniards of that time thought of nothing except the discovery of new lands, he fitted out two caravels and went in search of an island they called Bimini or, according to others, Buyoca.  There, according to fabulous tales of the Indians, was a fountain that rejuvenated the aged.  He traveled in search of it for many days, lost, and without finding it.  At the end of this time he was driven by a storm on the coast to the north of Cuba, which coast he named Florida because of the day on which he saw it being Easter.”

Thursday, January 8, 2015

First Contact: The Soto Expedition, Part 2: Like Deer

In 1537, after amassing a sizable fortune as a conquistador, slave trader, and business man in South America, Hernando de Soto quickly grew bored of civilian life in Spain and acquired permission from King Charles I of Spain to  conquer, colonize, (and plunder) what was then known as Florida and, in addition was made governor of Cuba. [see Part 1]