Saturday, March 26, 2016


    Blackfoot Tipis, Alberta, Canada, 1898, Photographer:  Walter McClintock

in Feeding Sublimity:  Embodiment and Medicine in Blackfoot Experience
Ryan Heavy Head
Master's of Arts Thesis
University of Lethbridge,
Alberta, Canada
pages 38-45
(Link) pdf

pages 139-140

"It will also be noticed that there are other depictions of kakató’siiksi on the ears, or smoke flaps, of the painted lodge. These too are important, and embodied, symbols. The southernmost design (five clustered kakató’siiksi) are called Mióhpokoiksi, bunched-children, the constellation of Pleiades. In kitawahsinnooni, this group is visible only during the winter, from October to late April, reflecting the annual cycle of seasons from the warmth of summer to the chill of winter. Its absence in spring marks the frost-free period, and signals to the beaver people that it is time to plant tobacco. There is, of course, a story that goes along with the name Mióhpokoiksi. One version of this tale begins with a number of impoverished young boys, disappointed during the springtime when all of their peers were receiving new red robes from the buffalo calves. Embarrassed by their own shabby, worn-out clothing, the oldest of these boys takes some weasel hair, spits on it, and blows it toward the sky, carrying all of them into the realm above. There they confer with Naato’si, the Sun, and Ko’komíki’somm, the Moon, requesting that the people be made to suffer for abusing their children. Hearing the account of the poverty they were made to suffer, Ko’komíki’somm, particularly empathetic toward the plight of youth, convinces Naato’si to bring drought to the Niitsitapi. The very next day, an intense heat converges upon the territory. Soon the people are thirsting, and are forced to live in burrows to escape the severe temperatures outside, using their dogs to dig for water. On the seventh day of this drought, the dogs themselves begin to howl prayers to Ko’komíki’somm, explaining why the boys had not received new robes, and asking that she at least take pity on the innocent four-legged. Ko’komíki’somm, hearing these requests, deliberates with her husband, and brings rain on the eighth day. Since that time, the people have cherished dogs for their protective abilities, and kept conscious of the dangers inherent in depriving their children. As a reminder of these lessons, Mióhpokoiksi can be seen huddled in the sky for warmth on winter nights, and disappearing in embarrassment around the time when the buffalo calves are born each spring."

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