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Farmers' Almanac

Moon Names Explored

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What the Farmers' Almanac Missed when Naming the Monthly Moons

A Full Moon by Any Other Name - Native American Style

In the early 1500s, there were approximately 600 tribes known as nations of indigenous peoples in North America (Canada, United States, and Mexico). Each of these populations lived off the land quite successfully before they were forced to give up the land. Each nation had its own government, language, and way of life. For Europeans to consider the natives to be savage was just a way to explain away their acts of violence against "Indians," since, in truth, most of the North American people were no more violent than the Europeans invading this "new land."

It is believed that there were over a million people in North America, native to this land prior to Christopher Columbus' "discovery." By 1900, there were only about three hundred thousand Native Americans left in North America, with many relegated to living on substandard lands known as reservations, managed by the Federal Government.

Well before the Europeans and others immigrated to this land, the Native Americans were living on the land all the way from the Florida coast to the Pacific Northwest, and well into Alaska. On this North American portion of the American Continent, that now speaks predominantly English, along with Spanish and French, there were over 300 distinctly different languages. Of the approximately 570 recognized tribes, there were 229 tribes in Alaska. California had the next highest number of tribes that were recognized by the federal government. Of the remaining tribes that exist today, each has its own agreement with the United States but not all are "managed" nor receive funding from the government.

Native American Moon Artifact

Each tribe, group, or nation, has their own history and stories to tell. So to assume that they all have the same beliefs, rules, and ideologies, would be like comparing the French to the Germans in their lifestyles simply because they are both nations in Europe.

Many people assume that the members of tribes all receive federal assistance. That is a faulty belief. Not all recognized tribes receive funding from the federal government. Tribal agencies that do receive funding do not necessarily pass the funding directly onto their members. Five Common Myths are: 1) Tribal Members Receive Free Housing (False), 2) Tribal Members Receive a Free College Education (False), 3) All Tribes get Rich from Casinos on Their Land (False), 4) Government or Tribal Funds are Sent to All Members of a Tribe (False), and 5) Native American's Don't Pay Taxes (False). But, you ask, what does this have to do with the Native American Moon Names we love to add each month to our Full Moons. Well, similar to these other misconceptions and assumptions, the, now commonly revered Native American Moon Names used by the Farmers' Almanac, was the proverbial drop in the bucket. So let's dive into some more history.

In the 1940s, a well-known Farmers' Almanac started using the Algonquin tribes' names of the 13 annual Full Moons as they aligned to the monthly calendar. These names grew in popularity, with little recognition to the people who used these names for the 13 lunar cycles annually. The names that the tribe used were usually associated with occurences that were common during each full moon's time of the year, specifically for that tribe. Starting in January, the common names used were Full Wolf Moon, Full Snow Moon [Feb], Full Worm Moon [Mar], Full Pink Moon [Apr], Full Flower Moon [May], Full Strawberry Moon [Jun], Full Buck Moon [Jul], Full Sturgeon Moon [Aug], Full Corn Moon [Sep], Full Harvest Moon [near the fall equinox], Full Hunters Moon [Oct], Full Beaver Moon [Nov], and Full Cold Moon [Dec].

Now to be fair, not all Native American Nations had moon names. Those that did, used moon names that were much different than these listed above. Plus, even within a nation, there may have been additional names based on what was occurring. Many moon names were unique to each tribe, or were similar based on similar life experiences, such as the Freezing Moon, the Windy Moon, the Cracking Tree Moon, or Someone's Ears are Freezing Moon. The point being made is that the monthly moon names that the Farmers' Almanac chose to utilize were not commonly used by all tribes and, as such, were unique, basically, to that region, not the entire country. To call these the "Native American Moon Names" is a disservice to all the other tribes that also had taken the time to name the full moons.

Regardless, indigenous people recognized the distinct differences between the four seasons, the three to four moons within each season, along with the life activities involved with those seasonal changes. Each group of people that did name the moon cycle, had their own preferences. While they may not have had names for each month, the full moon, as the "stand out moon event" each month, was given a name, similar to having a name for a month on the calendar, or the name of a zodiac sign that the moon is transiting through.

Below are three tables of unique and interesting full moon names from tribes all across North America. This is not a comprehensive list. There are way too many to list.

Native American Graphic - Moon Names and Weather Art

MonthFarmers' AlmanacAnishinaabeg NationsCherokee NationsDakota NationsTlingit NationsHaida Nations
January Full Wolf MoonGreat Spirit MoonCold MoonThe Hard MoonGoose MoonBear Hunting Moon
FebruaryFull Snow MoonBear MoonBone MoonRaccoon MoonBlack Bear MoonGoose Moon
MarchFull Worm MoonSnow Crust MoonWind MoonSore-Eye Moon or Raccoon Breading MoonUnderwater Plants Sprout MoonNoisy Goose Moon
AprilFull Pink MoonBroken Snowshoe MoonFlower MoonGeese Lay their Eggs Moon or Ducks Return Moon or Streams Flow MoonBudding Plants MoonMigratory Geese Moon
MayFull Flower MoonSucker MoonPlanting MoonPlanting Moon or Earth Digging MoonBefore Pregnancy MoonFood Gathering Moon
JuneFull Strawberry MoonBlooming MoonGreen Corn MoonRed Strawberries MoonBirth MoonBerries Ripen Moon
JulyFull Buck MoonBerry MoonCorn in Tassel MoonChoke Cherries are Ripe Moon or Geese Shed their Feathers MoonSalmon MoonRipe Berries Moon
AugustFull Sturgeon MoonGrain MoonRipe Corn MoonHarvest Moon, Corn Gets Ripe Moon, or Plums are Red MoonRipe Berries MoonSalmon Moon
SeptemberFull Corn MoonChanging Leaves MoonEnd of Fruit MoonRice Laid to Dry Moon or Leaves Turn Brown MoonYoung (animals) MoonCedar Bark for Hat Moon
OctoberFull Hunters MoonFalling Leaves MoonHarvest Moon or Great MoonDrying Rice Moon, Wind Shakes Leaves Moon or Corn Harvest MoonBig MoonIce Moon
NovemberFull Beaver MoonFreezing MoonHunting Moon or Trading MoonWinter Moon or Deer Rutting MoonScraping MoonBears Sleep Moon
DecemberFull Cold MoonLittle Spirit MoonSnow MoonMid-winter Moon or Deer Shed Horns MoonUnborn Seals Getting Hair MoonSnow Moon

Native American Eagle Moon

MonthLakota NationsShoshone NationsKalapuya NationsCree NationsPassama-
quoddy Nations
Mohawk Nations
JanuaryHardFreezingStay InsideOld Fellow Spreads BrushWhirling WindThe Big Cold
FebruaryTrees CrackCoyoteOut of FoodOld MoonSpruce Tips FallLateness
MarchSore EyesWarmingWomen Dig CamasEagle MoonSpringMuch Lateness
AprilWives Crack Bones for MarrowMeltingTime for Pounding CamasGray Goose MoonSpringBudding Tme
MayGreen LeavesBuddingCamas Blooming TimeFrog MoonAlewiveBig Leaf Time
JuneBerries are GoodSummer StartingCamas RipeMoon Leaves Come OutSummerRipening Time
JulyChock-cherries are BlackSummer StartingMid SummerDucks Begin to MoltRipeningMuch Ripening
AugustRipeningHotEnd of SummerYoung Ducks Begin to FlyFeather SheddingFreshness Time
SeptemberBrown LeavesFallAfter HarvestSnow Goose MoonAutumnMuch Freshness
OctoberWind Shakes off LeavesRuttingStart Getting Sagittair RootsBirds Fly South MoonHarvestPoverty
NovemberWinter BeginsColdInside for WinterRivers begin to Freeze MoonFreezingMuch Poverty
DecemberDeer Shed AntlersWinterNot Bad WeatherYoung Fellow Spreads the BrushFrost FishCold

Pacific NorthWest Native American Moon Mask

MonthShawnee NationsHopi NationsComanche NationsZuni NationsPotawatomi NationsApache Nations
JanuarySevereLife at its HeightYear MoonLimbs Broken by SnowBear MoonTime of Flying Ants
FebruaryCrowPurification and RenewalSleet MoonNo Snow in TrailsRabbit Moon...
MarchSapWhispering WindCottonball MoonLittle Sand StormCrane Moon...
AprilHalfWindbreakNew Spring MoonGreat Sand Storm...Moon of Big Leaves
MayStrawberryWaitingFlower Moon...Strawberry MoonSeason When Leaves are Green
JuneRaspberryPlantingLeaf MoonTurning MoonTurtle Moon...
JulyBlackberryHomedanceHot MoonLimbs Broken by FruitYoung Corn MoonMoon of the Horse
AugustPlumJoyfulSummer Moon...Middle Moon...
SeptemberPapawFull HarvestPaperman MoonCorn is Harvested......
OctoberWiltedLong HairFall MoonBig Wind MoonFirst Frost MoonTime When Corn is Taken In
NovemberLongFledgling HawkHeading to Winter Moon...Turkey Moon...
DecemberEccentricRespectEvergreen MoonSun Travels Home to Rest......

Native American Art - Clarence Mills - Haida Moon


© 2023, J McCaul - do not copy any portion
of this text without author's permission

Native American Art - Paul Amos Raven Steals Moon

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