Lakota Language and the Year of Moons

©Jane H Johann; September 6, 2017 Palmyra, WI

During the summer of 2005, my daughter, Lara, and Sue, a friend of mine, visited South Dakota, and on the way we stopped at St. Joseph’s Indian School in Chamberlain, South Dakota. Chamberlain is an interesting town situated on the Eastern bank of the Lake Francis dammed section of the Missouri River. St. Joseph’s Indian School is a residential facility for Lakota children. They provide a home, shelter, clothing, food and an education. I have read that the Lakota language and culture are also taught at the school and integrated in their education and living situation. Each house has “house-parents.”  I have given monthly donations to this school for 14 years–not much–and, now, I am questioning if I am doing the morally correct thing. I wish that a Lakota person from Chamberlain would comment on this matter.  Just yesterday and again today, I have read various reviews of St. Joseph–the pros and cons. In no way do I want the Lakota children exploited. Nor, do I want to support something that is contrary to the Lakota people.

I received a monthly planner from St. Joseph and within it, I found a lovely description of the moons of each month and thought I would share this bit of their culture.

The Lakota People of North America offer us a glimpse into what life was like prior to Global Warming. Their naming of the moons reflects the life that they lived on our Mother Earth and how they interpreted their life through the happenings of Nature.

January:  Wiotekika Wi — “Moon of Hard Times”

February: Cannapopa Wi  —  “Moon of Popping Trees”

March:  Istawicayazan Wi —  ‘Moon of Snow Blindness’

April:  Wihakakta Wi — “Moon of Fattening”

May: Wojupiwi Wi — “Moon of Planting”

June: Wipazuka waste Wi  — “Moon of Good Berries”

July:  Canpasapa Wi —  “Moon of Cherries Blackening”

August:  Wasuton Wi — “Moon of Harvest”

September:  Canwapega Wi — “Moon of Brown Leaves”

October: Canwapekasna Wi –“Moon of Falling Leaves”

November:  Waniyatu Wi — “Moon of Starting Winter”

December:  Tahecapsun Wi “Moon of Shedding Horns”


We need to revisit this peaceful place as they have now added the “Dignity Statue!


“Dignity is a sculpture on a bluff overlooking the Missouri River near Chamberlain, South Dakota. The 50-foot high stainless steel statue by South Dakota artist laureate Dale Lamphere depicts an Indigenous woman in Plains-style dress receiving a star quilt. According to Lamphere, the sculpture honors the culture of the Lakota and Dakota peoples who are indigenous to South Dakota. Assisting Lamphere were sculptors Tom Trople, Jim Maher, Andy Roltgen, and Grant Standard. Automotive paint expert Brook Loobey assisted with the colors for the quilt, and Albertson Engineering of Rapid City, SD ensured the sculpture would endure the strong winds common in the area.”


4 thoughts on “Lakota Language and the Year of Moons

  1. Jan Stewart says:

    I have been giving to the Lakotas at the St. Joseph School for years. It’s a beautiful culture. Happy New Year,


  2. Love this post! In 2010, Rainbow Warrior gave me the honorary Lakota name “Wayate I Huniya Sota” (pronounced: Wah Yah Day Ee Huen-nee-yah Shoh Dah) which translates to “Sees Through Smoke.”

    I am forever grateful.

    Liked by 1 person

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