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Canku Ota

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(Many Paths)

An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America


January 24, 2004 - Issue 105


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Fifteen Ways the Chippewa Forecasted the Weather

from Guy Burnham's The Lake Superior Country in History and in Story - 1929
credits: submitted by Timm Severud (Ondamitag)


Geese flying high portends a late fall. Geese flying very low means a storm is coming. Some observers say this is only true for the Brant (white snow goose) and that the Canadian geese often fly low as to feed.


When the crows disappear it is a sure sign that real winter weather is at hand. When they disappear in the spring or fall, cold weather often arrives in a few days.


Partridge usually drum in the spring. When they drum in the late fall, it is the final drum before winter sets in. Many wait for this "last drum song of the partridge" before saying winter is at hand.


When hornets and bees build their nest unusually high, it means that a deep snow and hard winter are to follow.


When weasels and rabbits become white early in the fall, it means that a long winter is coming.


When plants that grow seeds for birds to spread grow unusually tall it means that deep snow the coming winter.


When spring storms have "low and murmuring" thunder summer is not yet near. When the thunder comes in loud crashes then summer is at hand.


When rabbits, bears and partridge are all fat in the fall, it means a long winter.


The bear above all animals, knows when to "den up." When he is seen late in the season, there is no immediate fear of winter. Even after the apparent approach of winter, when they or their tracks are seen it means that a mild stretch of weather is yet to come. Sometimes in midwinter, in cold weather, bears leave their dens; this means that a winter thaw of some duration is due.


When in the time of snow, rabbits begin to make their "runs" on top of logs; it means a hard winter is approaching.


When muskrats not only build unusually high and well-covered houses, but also clear channels to deeper water it means that a very cold winter is approaching. If these channels end in shallow waters it means a mild winter.


During the early fall, when the white tail buck's antlers are still in velvet and have not hardened yet into real horns; all the bucks make rubs against trees and the higher the rubs on the trees the deeper the snow will be.


Thick husk on wild rice and corn mean a hard winter.


When a muskrat or other forbearing animal is killed in the fall and their pelt is found to be in "prime" condition early in the year it means that a long and hard winter is coming.


Some older Chippewas say they can tell the weather by watching the stars.

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