31 May 2008


lll ) llllllllllllllllllllllll Mo'toyaohkii…

Nitsiikohtaahsi’taki those rare occasions when disparate bits of knowledge ki experience unexpectedly coalesce to transform my understanding. I’ve asked a few naahsiksi if there is a way to describe this phenomenon in niitsi’powahsin, ki their suggestions so far have included: tonihp (I recognized s.t.), nikaomatapotsistapi’tsihp (I’m beginning to understand or be aware of s.t.), ki annaahtsiksi (oh, that’s how it is… an uninflected expression of surprised agreement or recognition, represented in our sign language by reaching out with a hooked forefinger as if physically grasping the strand of an idea that has been offered). All of these suggestions approach what I’m looking to express, but somehow miss the mark. Certainly though, the end-product of this coalescence experience is what we would call mokakssin. Often glossed in English as wisdom, mokakssin is actually a very descriptive term, developed off the verb roots okahsii (to congeal) and okaa (to snare). These same concepts are brought together with certain inflections to form the word mookaakin (or pemmican), which is a traditional food comprised of fine-ground dried meat, mixed with various berries, ki bound loosely together with fat. Mookaakin is highly nutritious, not only as a result of the chemical constituents of its ingredients, but due also to the manner in which they are processed, ground so fine as to make them very easily digestible. Following from this, I believe mokakssin carries similar qualities. It involves collecting or gathering disparate pieces of knowledge in the form of stories, language, songs, experiences, ki working these through a kind of milling process inherent in cyclically renewed practices, until the resultant particles – like the ingredients of mookaakin – are ground so fine that they spontaneously congeal into a greater, more thoroughly embodied whole.

In the cognitive sciences, this coalescence phenomenon is described as the moment when one becomes aware of a gestalt – a whole that constitutes a functional unit with properties not derivable from the summation of its parts. A somewhat impoverished example typically used to illustrate this concept in psychology is the silhouette image that may be perceived alternately as a beautiful young woman or a ragged old hag. The experience of gestalt perception that unfolds when a viewer recognizes the presence of both aspects of the image is often referred to as an “aha” moment, a flash of sudden insight, or a breakthrough. But I wonder if framing the experience in this manner is not somewhat biased by the Western focus on autonomous intellect. Having “aha” moments outside of the obviously contrived context of introducing such images, many people tend to feel as if the insights they gain are something of their own genius manufacture… perhaps even going so far as to claim these “discoveries” as their personal intellectual property, unique ideas that they themselves should be recognized for authoring. No doubt this perspective is related in some way to the rituals of mainstream education ki research in general, where people are taught to strategically pursue answers to particular questions, even going so far as to impose arbitrary time-schedules upon their learning, predetermining specific dates for when their data will be collected, analysed, ki reported as complete. It’s a shabby intellectual practice, in my book. Participants in such rituals grow more ki more prone to artificially construct knowledge through exercises of logic. Moreover, with this standard as the measure for validity, much important knowledge derived from more organic methods becomes dismissed. Ki when, inevitably, someone does experience a spontaneous coalescence phenomenon, the new understanding they gain becomes objectified ki commodified as an “idea” in a market schema for intellectual exchange.

In my experience, the coalescence, or gestalt perception, or whatever we want to call it, is of an order more humbling ki sublime. Rather than perceiving this kind of event as a personalized “aha” moment, I’m always very conscious of the manner in which an invitation for my participation in this greater perception has been in some way extended by those who have proceeded me… akaitapii, the ancestors. In fact, I marvel at the subtle ways they’ve encrypted complex understandings into our language, our stories, our ceremonies. At the same time, I’m also aware that mokakssin is not to be appreciated as something the ancestors developed, as though through some history of logical exercise like the Western scientific method. Rather, mokakssin comprises koitapiiyssin, life-bearing gifts, that we have been given in the context of relationships with non-humans. In other words, coalescence is the outcome of a socializing process, or getting to know others. It’s the organic result of making, maintaining, feeding, ki renewing relationships that expand to incorporate community at a cosmic scale. We human beings are but the youngest children of that community, for the most part yet unaware of the significance of the gifts we’ve inherited. But every once in a while, as we mature as a species, we get a little glimpse.

Recently, I felt as though I’d gotten one of those glimpses, ki the image posted along with this journal entry speaks to what I learned. This photo was taken at dawn a couple years ago, while driving along my commute from sikoohkotoki to mi’kai’stoo, near ma’si’tommo. When I downloaded it onto my computer ki was able to view it enlarged, I immediately had a sense that I should invert it. Upside-down, the image functions as a kind of gestalt illusion, much like the silhouette models of cognitive psychology. In this instance, the image appears as though it were of ksaahkomm, taken from a perspective somewhere in the stratosphere or beyond. This, I realized at the time, must have been mo’toyaohkii, the expansive body of water described in akaitapiitsinikssiistsi as having been occasionally traversed by human beings (with the assistance of naatoyiitapiiksi), to reach the world of the stars. I considered the inverted photograph to be an interesting visual illusion, with a bit of significance as a place described in the old stories, but that’s about it.

Around the same time I took the photograph, ki almost certainly influencing my decision to flip it on end, piipiiaakii ki niisto had begun to put some energy toward improving our understanding of two akaitapiitsinikssiistsi: the origins of both iihkitsikaamiksi ki miohpokoiksi. Now, our reason for doing so was related to having just that winter renewed two counting systems of the traditional niitsitapi lunar calendar (which had been defunct for who knows how long… at least several decades, if not a century). If I were to continue back from there, I could easily trace a path leading through our transfer of ksisskstaki amopistaan, naatoyiipapao’kaanistsi, repatriations, our marriage, ki events in both of our lives prior to meeting that would seem to suggest there has been a continuity of experience that led us to where we are, ki which I’m certain will continue to guide us.

Anyway, in order to renew the lunar counts, we had to rely on multiple sources. There were archival records: a winter count drawn in ledger form by stamiksisaapo’p at the turn of the century, a few lists of the names for each cycle, ki vague mention here ki there about how iiyaohkiimiiksi had a calendar maintained through the use of counting sticks. Akaikkinnaamm, the last iiyaohkiimi who might have really understood these systems, parcelled out his knowledge between the very few he mentored. From one of these fortunate individuals, naaahs mi’ksskimmiisoka'simm, piipiiaakii ki niisto were transferred ki’sommainihkssiistsi, the new-moon ceremony, ki rights to make ki paint the slender sticks that count winter nights. Then, from nitaatowa’pakka piitaikihtsipiimi, who had also been trained by akaikkinnaamm, we were transferred a second set of sticks, those that count the appearance of first crescent moons throughout the annual cycle, ki the song order that accompanies them. Working with these two systems, what we’d read in archival records, ki those akaitapiitsinikssiistsi we’re familiar with, we’ve come to appreciate a four-year pattern of naato’siiksi numbering 12, 12, 12, 13, 12, 12, 12, 13, 12, 12, 12, 13, etc.

Somewhere along the way, I’d contemplated ki practiced these systems enough to recognize that they are related to iihkitsikaamiksi ki miohpokoiksi. In the former story, there are seven boys, children of naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm. They were living together on ksaahkomm, in an era long before human presence here. Ko’komiki’somm had befriended a many-legged, serpentine creature who lived in a log, ki who could shape-shift into a form resembling their own. Naato’si planned to kill this interloper ki, if he had to, ko’komiki’somm as well. But before setting forth to do so, he gave each of his boys a gift - small but powerful items that they could carry with them at all times, to use if they should need to escape danger. Then he went to the log where the creature lived, ki when it tried to scurry out naato’si cut off its head. Placing the head back on the body, he left it there for ko’komiki’somm to find, ki gathered his boys to wait in the brush nearby. They watched as their mother approached the body, ki witnessed the terror that rose in her when she found that it was dead. Ko’komiki’somm had known immediately who killed the creature, ki her terror quickly developed into rage. She ran back to their lodge screaming, prepared to take revenge. In the mean time, naato’si ki the boys gathered a bunch of deadwood near the creature’s body. Soon they heard ko’komiki’somm making her way back from the lodge, still screaming in fury. She threw herself onto the creature’s body, crying. Ki just then naato’si ki the boys jumped out of the brush, pinned her down, ki cut her to pieces. They threw all the deadwood on top ki started a fire. Naato’si instructed the boys to remain by the fire until the last ember died. They were given forked sticks to use if any coals escaped. He told them that if even the smallest bit of their mother failed to burn to ashes, she would have the power to resurrect herself.

It took a long time for the pyre to burn down. When it looked like all had turned to ash, naato’si ki the boys returned to their lodge. He told them to be alert throughout the next four sleeps. If a live coal had somehow gotten away from them, ki ko’komiki’somm was able to resurrect, it would occur within the span of four sleeps. So they waited, ki the days passed. On the fourth day, they heard the sound of someone coming toward their camp. They knew it was their mother. The boys ki their father made a run for it, letting the youngest lead the way ki set their pace. Behind them, ko’komiki’somm drew closer. Naato’si reminded the eldest of the seven boys of the gift he had given him, a bladder bag full of water. He threw the bag over his shoulder at his mother, ki there it began to rain, making the ground muddy ki slippery. It slowed the enraged woman down, but she used her own power to make the rain stop, ki soon was catching up to them again. At that point, the next oldest brother turned ki drew a line in the sand with his finger, creating a massive canyon. This slowed ko’komiki’somm down considerably, but she eventually made her way to the bottom ki up the other side. When she’d almost caught up with the boys again, naato’si shouted to the third eldest to throw back his gift, a rock. A huge mountain range erupted out of the earth. Ko’komiki’somm called upon the ants, who came in droves ki bore a tunnel through. The next boy to use his gift, the middle brother, threw a short stick. It became a dense forest. Their mother ran back ki forth along its edge, trying to find a passage. Eventually, in her fury, she just pressed her way straight through. The fifth brother carried a bladder bag of air. He untied it ki threw it over his shoulder. When it hit the ground in front ko’komiki’somm, a massive wind erupted, sending her tumbling in the opposite direction. She grasped at all kinds of plants ki objects as she blew along, until finally getting hold of a tree with deep roots. There, she held tight to the tree ki waited for the wind to die down so she could pursue once more. The boys were running out of obstacles to set in front of her. When she’d almost caught them again, naato’si told the second youngest to set free the vibrantly-colored bird he had given him. The bird flew up in the air, ki immediately a black cloud formed. Loud sounds boomed out, ki electricity streaked toward ko’komiki’somm. She dodged ki ran to hide amongst some trees. This was the first time any of them had experienced thunder or lightning. But almost as quickly as the cloud had formed, it disappeared, ki the woman ran on after her sons. They had one gift left, another bladder bag full of water, carried by o’kiinaa, the youngest. As their mother closed on them, o’kiinaa threw it back, ki as soon as the first drop of water hit the ground it began to spread in all directions. Naato’si used his own powers so that he ki his sons could levitate above the expanding water, ki out into the void. Down below them, their mother ran as fast as she could along the earth’s surface, trying to find some way around mo’toyaohkii, this ocean. But it had no end. Naato’si ki his boys continued to drift away until they were out of sight.

Ko’komiki’somm sat down, desperate, trying to think of how she could overcome this obstacle. Then it came to her. She had received many gifts from her husband, ki there was one that just might take her to the other side. She hurriedly gathered up some dry wood ki made a small fire. Then she took a coal from this fire ki set a pinch of sweetgrass on it. The aromatic smoke from the sweetgrass drifted up toward her husband ki the boys, ki when ko’komiki’somm stood ki stepped over this smoke, she too began to ascend. Soon she had crossed through the water ki was on the other side. Up there, high above the earth, her movement was not limited. She could sense everything, including the location of her boys, ki she could go to them as slowly or as quickly as she wanted to. Certain that she would have her revenge, ko’komiki’somm rushed to the site of her children, ki almost got hold of o’kiinaa, the youngest, when she felt a blow to her left leg. Naato’si had seen her coming, ki at the last moment threw his hatchet with such force that it went clean through her leg, chopping it off. Ko’komiki’somm crumpled, bleeding. This was an opportunity naato’si couldn’t afford to miss. He stood over his wife, speaking softly, running his hands from the top of her head down her shoulders ki arms. He was stripping away many of the powers he had gifted to her in the past. At first, she fought against him, but then relented. When naato’si had finished, ko’komiki’somm held her dismembered leg back against the stub of her thigh, ki it reattached. Naato’si told her that the leg would continue to fall off periodically from then on, causing her to bleed. As she bled, so too would all of the women of ksaahkomm, so that what had happened between them would always be remembered. Then, knowing that his wife would still want to seek revenge, naato’si made night ki day, so that his boys would occasionally have a period of darkness to rest in, while their mother sought them out blindly. The boys thereafter have been called iihkitsikaamiksi (the seven), known more widely as the Big Dipper.

Now, when I first encountered mo itsinikssin, I really didn’t think that deeply into it. All I saw in it was a mythology relating the origin of geographic features. It wasn’t until practicing the two lunar count systems we’d been transferred that my thoughts returned to iihkitsikaamiksi, ki I began to wonder about how we might still use the gifts naato’si had shared with his boys. There were seven, just like the seven winter moons. Ki most of the time, when their constellation is drawn on tipi designs ki the like, they appear not as a dipper in shape, but as a crescent. I began to consider what the seven gifts might offer in terms of helping people survive the seasonal trials typically associated with each moon of the winter season. Ki I also realized that if iihkitsikaamiksi was connected to sstoyii, then miohpokoiksi (which almost always appears on the south ear flap of painted lodges, opposite iihkitsikaamiksi) must be connected to niipo. Because indeed, there are six stars in the paintings of miohpokoiksi, arranged in a sun-like design with five clustered around a central member, rather than appearing as the Pleiades constellation actually does in the night sky.

In the story of miohpokoiksi, there are six brothers who were neglected by their parents ki relatives. Every spring, when the otsiikini were in bloom, the people would hunt iinii ki give their children the red robes of new calves. But these six brothers never received red robes. All they ever got were brown ones, or robes made of mature iinii. The other children made fun of them. When another spring season came to pass ki their desires were ignored again, they decided to leave the human world. They went off to a hill by themselves. There, the older brother took hair from a white weasel ki placed it on the backs of each of his siblings. Then he put some of the same hair in his mouth, told his brothers to close their eyes, ki blew the hair up toward the sky. When the boys opened their eyes again, they were in the lodge of naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm. Naato’si asked the brothers why they had come. They explained how their relatives had neglected them, ki that they would like to see them punished. They asked naato’si if he could take the water away from human beings. Hearing this request, naato’si just sat quietly. Then the boys asked ko’komiki’somm, ki she felt bad for them. She pleaded with her husband to help her take the water away. She had to ask him seven times before he agreed. The next day, the earth was very hot. All the lakes ki rivers began evaporating. Ki the following night was warm as well, with a strong moonlight. By the second day, the water was all gone from the surface of the earth, ki people began taking their dogs to the riverbanks, having them dig holes to find more. This was how many springs were created along our rivers. Within a matter of days, it became so hot that people had to dig holes in the hillsides ki crawl inside to keep cool. They would have died if they’d remained above ground. Each time the water in the springs gave out, the dogs would dig new holes. It seemed like there would be no end to the heat. But the leader of the dogs had some powers. He was old ki white. After seven days of suffering like this, he gathered the other dogs ki together thay began howling at the sky, calling to naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm, explaining why the six brothers received no red robes, ki asking that they have compassion at least for the dogs, who had never done anything to hurt them. The next day, naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm brought heavy rain. It rained for a long time. Ki the six brothers remained in the sky as miohpokoiksi, bunched-up to keep warm.

There are actually several different versions of mo itsinikssin, but I won’t summarize the others because really I don’t have much to say about them at this point. All I understand at present is that miohpokoiksi are the moon cycles of niipo. Their significance, as related by many kaahsinnooniksi, is as a reminder to treat our children with respect. But I think this is only a fraction or aspect of the wider lesson to be gained... or maybe an understatement. Both of these akaitapiitsinikssiistsi – iihkitsikaamiksi ki miohpokoiksi – describe events ki relationships that have unfolded between cosmic beings. As such, they can’t be fully appreciated simply in human terms. But if we understood people to be representative of a particular cosmic being, say ksaahkomm, on the other hand…

Annohk we’re approaching nearer my recent coalescence experience. During aapistsisskitsaato’si, as mentioned in a prior journal entry, I’ve been experimenting with an exercise that brings me to a certain awareness of noistomi ki its connection to aohkii - most immediately that of kitawahsinnon, but also by extension to that which flows throughout ksaahkomm as a whole. In this state, like in sstsiiysskaan, notions of time ki separation by distance no longer exist. I can travel via noistomi, aohkii, wherever I please, instantaneously. Ki anywhere this aqueous wandering takes me, I am able to engage with others in a dialog that occurs not quite by way of voice, but rather more through imagery ki sensation. This exercise is my iiyaohkiimi variation on a collective effort that is being explored by a group I’m involved with, which is helping all of us to grow in our respective practices toward some common ends.

One of the questions this group has been addressing most recently in the context of our expanded states of awareness pertains to imbalances between ksaahkomm ki aohkii, body ki mind, as registered in the reconciliatory forces at play in our current climate shift. Ki through an interesting synchronicity, I happened to be preparing the delivery of my first presentation for The Climate Project at the same time as our collective project moved in this direction. For me, public presentation always prompts accelerated learning. In this particular case, I wanted to make some changes in the presentation Al Gore had developed – reframing some of the science in niitsitapi terms, ki offering solution suggestions that break away from the current, consumption-driven models. Working my way slide-by-slide through the presentation, I found myself leaning heavily on the story of iihkitsikaamiksi to talk about the atmosphere, its functions ki characteristics. Going back to omi itsinikssin, it’s clear that the bladder bag of water thrown back by o’kiinaa was that which became our atmosphere. A seamless body of aohkii positioned between ksaahkomm ki the world of kakato’siiksi. Omi mo’toyaohkii was a gift from naato’si, meant to help his children escape from danger, the revenge sought by ko’komiki’somm… whether this is ko’komiki’somm the celestial body, or the forces she wields, or both.

In niitsitapisskska’takssin, ko’komiki’somm is associated with the cold of winter, the dark of night, ki aohkii. Mo’toyaohkii, in effect, can be thought of as a protective robe that shields the life of ksaahkomm from being overcome by these forces. Our robe must be permeable enough to allow the radiance of naato’si to penetrate ki warm us. It must also be permeable enough to allow some of that heat to escape, retaining only that which is most optimal for life to continue to flourish. One of the things I realized, in preparing for my presentation, is that there is a certain cycle, maintained by the life of ksaahkomm, which functions more-or-less to periodically smoke-treat our protective robe, ensuring that it won’t become too porous. However, human beings over the last five decades have been subjecting the robe to such an intense ki prolonged smoke-treatment that it has basically become a sooty mess. It’s no longer permeable to the radiance of naato’si in the manner that it was meant to be. But by no means is it entirely ruined. We don’t have the power to destroy this gift, because it was not given to us specifically. It was given to the youngest son, the generations furthest down the line. This robe is sacred, powerful. Iikaatowa’pii. It will induce a balance to ensure that the organic life of ksaahkomm continues. Ko’komiki’somm has found her way through it before, in an era when such balance was upset. She can certainly come through again.

This is where the affect of coalescence goes far beyond any of the fancy thrills of surface illusion presented in cognitive psychology. Rather, true gestalt experience compels us to completely reconceptualise everything we thought we knew. There is so much that could be extrapolated from the association between what is happening to our atmosphere ki the story of iihkitsikaamiksi. When I even start to consider the implications, my mind just reels. It would be of no use to try elaborating too much on how my awareness has shifted from this experience over the past few days. However, there are a couple of significant lessons I should mention before I close.

Given the perspective that our atmosphere is a sacred ki powerful gift, inherited by the future generations of earth life, ki meant to act as a significant obstacle to our being completely overcome by the threat of imbalance or disharmony... what might also be understood of the gifts naato’si gave to his other six sons? In the context of the present climate shift, how might we draw from this story to reframe our appreciation for the protective role of rain, canyon-lands, mountains, forests, wind, ki electrical storms? Each of these, like mo’toyaohkii, iikaatowa’pii – they are very powerful in the unique manner in which each can deter danger.

Another related thought… considering both iihkitsikaamiksi ki miohpokoiksi, ki revisiting the earth-is-to-water as body-is-to-mind corollary proposed ki presently being explored by the group I’m involved with, what understandings might be gained? For myself, I am reminded of the observation naaahs ki’naksaapo’p has often made, which is that we are in a sense abusing some of the abilities we have. Ki’naksaapo’p tells a story about the time he caught a fish ki brought it to his grandfather. The old man lavished him with praise, ki immediately set to work cleaning ki cooking the fish for dinner. Not long after that, ki’naksaapo’p went back to the river ki caught nine fish. He was so proud. He brought them to his grandfather expecting to really be appreciated. The old man looked at the fish with regret ki aaniiwa, “Why did you do this sonny? We don’t need this many fish. One or two is all we need. Don’t ever do this again.” Ki’naksaapo’p has carried this experience with him to this day. Ki he points out that a child, learning that it can do something, often does not consider whether he or she actually should. This is the same way mainstream society is negotiating its newfound technological knowledge. Rather than considering what the actual benefit of each technology can be, ki therefore to what extent it should be used, we are just catching as many fish as we possibly can. We are so proud of our perceived accomplishments, it’s going to take the spirits of future generations speaking through our sacred grandparents, naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm, to scold us for our carelessness. This is precisely what happens in the tale of miohpokoiksi. We are neglecting to consider the desires of our children, however many generations away. Their spirits are feeling this neglect. They may very well go to naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm, cut their ties with us, ki seek retribution. Maybe this is what we are seeing in the surge of radiance intensity coming from naato’si today.

As both stories infer, our appreciation of ksaahkomm should not be reduced to just ourselves. We have a presence here. We are of this body, to be sure. But ksaahkomm is not necessarily of us. Are we its voice? Apparently not as far as the dogs are concerned. Ksaahkomm itself is a gestalt, a coalescence…. a whole that constitutes a functional unit with properties not derivable from the summation of its parts. Like any-body, it comes into being in relationship to others of its order, as defined by an even wider system that encompasses all of the cosmic bodies. If we hope to contribute to a strengthening of the relationships between ksaahkomm ki these other beings, including naato’si, ko’komiki’somm, all of the kakato’siiksi, perhaps we should recognize that there is a pre-existing ki ongoing dialog amongst them. Opening ourselves to hear what is being said in that discussion may be our first step toward significant participation ki maturity.

21 May 2008


lll ) lllllllllllllll Awatsimaanistsi…

Tangibly vibrant, mo aapistsisskitsaato’si. So much energy, so much power, bursting like aapsspinniikoaiksi from the hard shell of winter’s owaistsi. My intuition tells me simply to dance along as a partner or player in this surge of renewed life. Kitawahsinnoon taisitsipssakk, Let go… let go. Miinotoomsoohkomit. Kitaaksiisookoo. Ki nitssksinihpa anni niitsii. It’s been demonstrated. While piipiiaakii labours happily with a group of aakiiksi at mi’kai’stoo, brain-tanning deer hides, I throw a line in the backwater streams of Farm Four ki come away with six apaksskioomiiksi. It’s enough meat for at least two meals in our small household, acquired with very little effort. Then, a couple sleeps later, piipiiaakii ki niisto plant seeds for our annual vegetable garden behind nookoowannaan, ki during our preparation of the ground we gather young foliage from a number of spinach-like, spear-leaf goosefoot plants that have grown of their own accord since saommitsiki’somm. It takes no time at all to fill four ziplock freezer-bags with these nutritious leaves, which piipiiaakii plans to sauté in butter ki garlic, ki serve at various dinners. I imagine that if we occupied ourselves for an entire morning gathering these plants, we’d quickly have enough to last all year, ki a surplus to give away as well. It’s that easy. The goosefoot are that plentiful. Ki yet, they’re only one of at least a dozen local vegetable species I’m aware of that are ready to be harvested right now.

There’s no question, kitawahsinnoon ayiisootssp. But most don’t even seem to recognize this. Among the minority who do, like kiistonnoon, we typically accept only the smallest portion of the gifts offered. It’s as if we’re being treated to an elegant dinner, but have arrived to the event with full stomachs, or find ourselves intimidated by an exotic menu, or just hold back in preparation for some other indulgence planned for afterward. We sit here amongst our hosts, refusing to even sample the food on our plates, choosing instead to snack lightly on a garnish here or there, just enough to feel justified in claiming to have indeed eaten. Oddly, we have a keen interest in making such assertions, in occasionally accepting the invitation to dine, in learning at least the names of the dishes set before us. This is the curious part. Why would we even bother, if we’re not going to surrender ourselves fully to the dining experience?

Matonni, in the evening, I asked myself this same question while sitting in a deep, almost scalding bath, walking myself through an exercise that I’ve been exploring recently, to help bring clarity to these kinds of dilemmas. Immersed up to my shoulders, I close my eyes ki bring my attention first to noistomi, then to the connection I have with aohkii… not only that which surrounds me in the tub, interfaced against my flesh, but also (ki by extension) to the whole of that which circulates throughout kitawahsinnoon… flowing from the miistakiistsi ki maksisskommiksi down across the prairies, coalescing in pools that feed the sky ki eventually circulate back again. In this manner, I realize a sensation of inseparability between noistomi ki aohkii, as if they are one ki the same. It is just as matsi’sai’piyi ainihkiwa, aohkii noistominnaan. Ki it is similar to the sensation I experience in sstsiiysskaan, where I am no longer so much physical, but spirit.

From this state of heightened or adjusted awareness, there is no longer any notion of time, nor concept of separation over distance. I can travel via noistomi, aohkii, wherever I please, instantaneously, searching for answers to whatever questions happen to be most relevant in the moment. On this particular occasion, I want to return to the events of earlier in the day, when ki’naksaapo’p ki niisto drove to miistsi kawahkoistsi ki ni’tommoistsi west of Nanton to visit aitapisskoistsi. I sought to re-experience our encounters with these places from the perspective of this different form of consciousness, to feel around for anything I may have missed when relying on a more limited set of sensory capacities.

Our first stop that day had been at aakiipisskaan, where ki’naksaapo’p hoped to get some film footage of omiksi kakanottsstookiikoaiksi I’d photographed on my recent pass through the area. We were lucky, or perhaps aakiipisskaan had been awaiting our arrival. On the walk over to the jump, I found my first mi’ksikatsi oyiiyis, hidden under some gooseberry brush high on the ridge. Then, when we entered omi pisskaan, we found not only the nested chicks, but also a full-grown kakanottsstooki, perched picturesquely on a rock shelf just below the ancient carving of iipisowahsi. It was, in fact, the same shelf where I’d left ninnisskimm overnight during sa’aiki’somm, in an attempt to gain naatoyiipaapao’kaanistsi. That prior evening, as I drove in the dark toward Edmonton, I’d experienced a doubling of noistomi – one self in the vehicle, another walking the path to aakiipisskaan. Ki as the latter self rounded the cliff-side ki approached the hollow of the rock shelf, I encountered a man there, waiting, silent. The features of ma ninna were not distinct enough to describe in any detail. He was more phantom than physical. He was old, but young. At first my skin crawled when I recognized his presence, but I pushed this initial fear aside ki followed as he led me further along the cliff-face, into a low-ceiling cave. I knew this place well. The cave had a long, narrow window facing across omi kawahkoyi. Ki as I stood there with ma ninna, he made a sign as if shooting an arrow out through the gap, toward some rock formations on the opposite side. The next day, I’d returned to collect ninnisskimm, ki imagined that ma ninna would be there when I came to the shelf. He wasn’t. Nor, to my surprise, was ninnisskimm. Then I looked down into some crevices in the rock, ki found it, the leather strap that transformed it into a necklace eaten cleanly away by rodents. Annohk, what remains of that innisskimm, my first sacred transfer, binds the top of a small skinitsimaan that holds some of nisaaamistsi.

Seeing kakanottsstookii there, on the same rock shelf, as ki’naksaapo’p ki niisto approached aakiipisskaan, brought me immediately back to the encounter with mi ninna. What if the kakanottsstookii was simply another embodiment of that same spirit? Ninnaimsskaiksi, they say, return to us as sipisttoiksi bearing messages. Perhaps he had something to tell me. In the moment though, rather than listen, I allowed the cameras to function as a divide between us ki this other being. Ki’naksaapo’p, with the movie camera, made his way slowly to a position near mi kakanottsstookii, ki then called for my assistance to try ki coax it to take flight. I had wanted to get some close-ups with my still-camera anyway, ki so took the opportunity to approach with very little abandon. Ki ma kakanottsstookii didn’t budge. I walked so close as to start growing intimidated, wondering how I should react if the sipisttoo decided to attack me. But as I considered this possibility, it finally took wing, passing swiftly around the cliff-side ki out of sight.

After aakiipisskaan, nitsitapoohpinnaan a little ways south to an erratic boulder, fissured so as to create a kind of cave. Archaeologists had reported that there were ancient pictographs on the roof of this cave, ki they hadn’t lied. When ki’naksaapo’p ki niisto wedged ourselves inside, we were immediately impressed with the power of what we were witnessing. There were a number of images – a human figure, the crescent of ko’komiki’somm. But what stood out most, obviously central in significance, was a stylized depiction of ksiistsikomiipi’kssi, connected to a human being by a bolt of zig-zag lightning. Before we dared take any images, ki’naksaapo’p ki niisto made an offering of pisstaahkaan ki spoke to the purposes behind of our visit. Then, after another round of camera-work, we made a careful survey of the immediate area ki decided that we should climb up the steep slope of ni’tommo behind this boulder, to discern whether or not the painting’s significance extended to that height. It was raining all the way up, ki I hadn’t even brought a jacket. But neither of us minded the weather. We were all too satisfied to have become acquainted with this new aitapissko.

Along the slope leading up toward the peak of omi ni’tommo, I continually photographed the plants I was seeing – the wild strawberries, shooting stars, yellow bells, ki violets of many hues. I didn’t gather any of these plants, although I knew them all to be useful. I felt like we were on a mission of sorts, a pilgrimage, ki that it was no time to be bothered with digging in the dirt. At the top of mi ni’tommo, ki’naksaapo’p ki niisto were rewarded with a tremendous view in all directions. Certainly this site must have functioned as saamissapii in the past. There were sandstone rock formations up there as well, one with an odd square painted in niitsi’saan. But nothing more. Ki soon we began to feel chilled, tired, hungry. At this point, we turned back, winding our way slowly down the hillside, past the boulders, ki back out onto the flat below. There, near our vehicle, we found a sizeable cairn that had somehow entirely escaped our notice on the way up. For me, the cairn confirmed the likelihood that this place was, as I’d suspected, the origin site of at least one ninnaimsskaahkoyinnimaan. It would be the story of this event that was painted on the roof of the cave, ki the cairn would have been where people left their offerings over subsequent centuries.

That was what I’d experienced on-site. But back in the tub at nookoowa that evening, revisiting the site remotely by means of connection through aohkii, I felt that there had indeed been much overlooked. Re-sensing the visit we’d had, expanding noistomi to include the land, the rocks, the plants, the birds, I suddenly understood that we matapiiksi of today are stuck in a continual state of fasting. We have become completely invested in the pursuit of knowledge, but not at all in its application, in its life. Ki as we are each inseparable from all else in kitawahsinnoon, as we habitually fast, so too does our environment. By our actions, the collective ecological body is slowly, steadily being drained of its nutritive resources. The aohkii that connects us dissipates in the wind, leaving behind only minerals of cold earth, stone, the bones of the dead. It’s a paradox. Having experienced forced disjunction from our relationship with kitawahsinnoon, we seek a re-acquaintance, a revitalization. But it is this very desire, ki the inquisitive action it incites, that keeps us from living that relationship. The longer we continue to explore mere possibilities, the more our life escapes us.

15 May 2008


lll ) lllllllll Aakiipisskaan…

Matonni, I had to drive to mohkinsstsis for a FNAHEC (First Nations Adult Higher Education Consortium) meeting, to plan for the implementation of distributed ki distance learning in our tribal colleges. Before departing from Sikoohkotoki, I updated my schedule for the remainder of niipo, ki was somewhat depressed to learn that most ksiistsikoistsi are already booked-up with various speaking, teaching, ki meeting engagements. This practice of setting a predetermined agenda for one’s life, ki anchoring it in a calendar system that is already at least a step removed from what I can only call “real-time”, creates significant obstacles for anyone trying to practice kippaitapiiyssinnoon. The biggest problem I have with such scheduling is that it leaves little opportunity to truly engage in a dialog with kitawahsinnoon. For instance, because of our clocks ki calendars, we’re often made to feel hurried or limited in the amount of energy we can afford to invest in relationship-building activities like visiting with places, plants ki animals, or even with our own families. In fact, any such activities we regularly maintain outside of an employment context become categorized as hobbies or pass-times, as if they’re just something to keep us occupied until we get down to real work again. At the very least, the imposition of mainstream time has us preoccupied with where ki when we are supposed to be next… which in turn may force us to prematurely terminate various engagements, even at their peak of productivity. But the problem is often far greater than this. Our relationships with clocks, calendars, ki agendas dull our senses, to the point where we may not even recognize or perceive the various non-human voices around us. How many people could identify (or would even pay attention to) the sound of a kakanottsstookiikoan, for instance? I wouldn’t have been able to, were it not for the events of matonni.

All day long, on my drive to mohkinsstsis, ki throughout the FNAHEC kanoohsin, I carried a sense of… almost mourning. I was very aware that there were things unfolding all around our region that would not occur again until next year, ki that I was missing out on experiencing many of them due to having my affairs scheduled in advance. How much of kippaitapiiyssinnoon has fallen out of practice, or been entirely forgotten, because of this dilemma? To me, living by the clock is kind of like walking past a group of kaahsinnooniksi, not even bothering to acknowledge them, shake their hands. Not even looking at them. Worse still, turning a cold shoulder to them when they approach bearing gifts. Healthy, mutually beneficial relationships are based on reciprocity ki shared experiences, cyclical exchanges ki renewals. If we go on acting as though the sspommitapiiksi, ksaahkomitapiiksi, ki soyiitapiiksi don’t matter or exist, what can we expect from them in return?

Thankfully, my drive home gave me an opportunity to at least take some stock in present happenings. Naato’si is setting later, so I still had some remaining light to work with. Ki what I decided to do is drop by aakiipisskaan on my way south. There are a number of important aitapisskoistsi between mohkinsstsis ki sikoohkotoki. Aakiipisskaan, the place where the first niitsitapi marriages occurred, is one that I frequent.

The experience there, for me, was completely invigorating. Just what I needed. Along the road leading to aakiipisskaan, I was able to observe that the male ki female sa’aiksi were still travelling around together, which suggests that perhaps they haven’t made their oyiiyiistsi yet. In the grassy plain above the jump, kippiaapiiksi were still in bloom. Ki on the rock shelf below the cliff, two kakanottsstookiikoaiksi had hatched, in the same nest as last year. When I came up on them, I could see that their mother had left a couple dead mice off to the side of their oyiiyis. Then one of the kakanottsstookiikoaiksi, more agitated than its cowering sibling, clicked his beak at me repeatedly - a sound I could immediately imitate, ki will never forget. So I backed off, ki continued down the slope, noticing that the stinging nettle ki gooseberry were just starting to leaf-out, ki that a lot of the black soil dug up by rodents was visible, exposing hundreds of fragments of old iinii bone, ki even the occasional arrowhead. Farther below, by the creek that runs through omi kaawahkoyi, there were swampy areas that resonated with the sounds of matsiyikkapisaiksi. I hiked down ki waded into the water among them, slowly, patiently, to get a few close-up photos of their distended throats in mid-song. I was with the matsiyikkapisaiksi for a while, then made my way back to the truck. On a fencepost in the distance, I witnessed sikohpoyitaipanikimmiksi coupling, something I’d never seen before. All of this made me feel so refreshed. I offered pisstahkaan in gratitude. By the time I was driving away from aakiipisskaan, all of my depression from earlier in the day had completely dissipated. The only unfortunate thought that lingered was new… an awareness of the significance of my camera. Although I may commit myself more often than most to tracking the goings-on amongst these other beings, I’m still something of a tourist among them. The experiences I have are constantly novel, exciting. My learning curve an extreme arch. Certainly one aspect of my photography is its potential to help me share the world I see with others. But another significance of the photo is its presumed ability to capture, via the magical laws of similitude ki contagion, some of the power from that world, to be brought away. It is a kind of taking. Ki I wonder, what are we willing to give in return?

11 May 2008


lll ) lllll Akaiksisiikini…

Iiksskonata’piiyi amopistaanistsi. Living attentively with them everyday, I find that they constantly reveal aspects of our experiences that are either hidden under normal conditions or, more often, outright avoided because they challenge the stories we want to believe about ourselves. Sometimes, the manner in which amopistaanistsi communicate with us is very blunt ki straightforward. But it can also be extremely subtle, leading us unknowingly toward lessons that require years to unveil.

When piipiiaakii ki niisto first brought ksisskstaki amopistaan into nookoowannaan, I entered a period of heightened agitation. Loud noises ki voices began to really bother me, especially the distinct sounds of naapi’powahsin… which I thought was odd, because it’s our first language. None-the-less, I stopped listening to the radio, cut down considerably on television, ki began secluding myself in either my bedroom or office whenever we had too many visitors chattering in our living-room. Initially, my assumption was that I was either sensing what nitomopistaan itself felt in this new environment, or that perhaps something had been done to me physically during the pommakssin process that fundamentally transformed my aesthetics. In any case, after a full winter season living in frustration over the abundance of noise around us, my sense of intense annoyance began to dull somewhat, although never completely subsiding.

It was around that time that an altogether different agitation began to trouble me, namely a growing intolerance for some of the short-sighted ki foolish behaviors I was witnessing in others, especially family. Ki in this respect, my life became a considerable challenge. Nitaatowa’pakka, kiitokiiaapii, who I was relying on to responsibly carry his role as partner with nitomopistaan, repeatedly bowed to an addiction that jeopardized his marriage, his employment, ki the trusting relationship we’d built (in addition to being a terrible influence on ohkoyiiksi). At the same time, nitaakiim, ni’tsitstakiaakii, was trying to use procreation as a means to secure her relationship with a boy who didn’t really want her, ki who was not remotely interested in taking care of her… a decision that I knew could only bring more hardship into her life ki ours. Then, after forty years of seeming stability, ninna iiponiowatsiiwa niksisst. This latter event was, of course, particularly devastating for me. Before I’d learned what had happened, I felt intuitively that a radical change had occurred, ki that it had something to do with my parents. I’d even used the satellite imagery of GoogleEarth to look down on their house, so far away, trying to figure out what my intuition was about. I wouldn’t have to wait long. Just a few sleeps passed before ninna phoned to confide with me the news of his infidelity, ki the certainty that he’d be leaving niksisst. With both kiitokiiaapii ki ni’tsitstakiaakii, my responses initially took the shape of concern, then moved toward disappointment, ki eventually a kind of judgemental disinterest. With ninna, who I had tremendous respect for, my first reaction had been similarly concerned ki supportive. I even attempted to help him strategize the separation for minimal damage. But then came a day when I had to confront the pain ki despair carried through the devastated voice of niksisst, ki all of my respect ki support for ninna turned immediately to a resentment so strong that, almost two years later, I’ve still avoided speaking to him again.

These are only a few of the most extreme examples of what I’ve experienced in terms of heightened agitation since ksisskstaki amopistaan came into nookoowa. Yet there have been countless lesser disturbances, some too brief even to warrant memory. The point is, when faced with these kinds of challenges, my reaction has generally involved intolerance ki, if carried on, eventually a fair bit of disdain or resentment. In fact, one might easily interpret my emotional response pattern as something unbecoming of an iiyaohkiimi, or even potentially dangerous for those around me. As the public discourse in our region goes, those who are involved in naatowa’pii are supposed to practice kimmapiiyipitssin - a habitualized compassion for the interests ki needs of each member of society, as if they were our own children, ki as if the whole of the community were one close-knit family. Our inner sentiments, especially if given any voice, are thought to be communicated to amopistaanistsi, ki therefore carry the potential for realization. On the other hand though, aakaaniiyo’p “iihtsipaitapiiyo’p isstsskimaanitapi”. This was certainly true during the period leading up to our transfer, ki naahsinnaaniksi warned us that more challenges would follow. What piipiiaakii ki niisto were advised, ki what we’ve stuck to all along, was to maintain diligence in attending to nitomopistaan – through aamato’simaan, aatsimoyihkaan, ki’sommainihkssiistsi, etc. We’ve done that, ki we’ve learned a great deal in the process. At times, that learning has been immediate, or at least easily recognizable… direct lessons from mi’ksskimmiisoka’simm, the catching of naatoyinihkssiistsi. On other occasions though, the growth one gains through naatowa’pii is gradual, an embodied consequence of steady diligence in practice or saponihtaan. Annohk, for me, ki perhaps through this more gradual process, although the heightened intolerance ki agitation of recent years has not by any means completely abated, I’m beginning to sense a shift in my understanding of its meaning, ki also in the potential for positive action that it could ultimately produce.

Over the past few sleeps, my awareness of the changes underway in this respect have intensified. I’m not sure why this is… there have been a number of simultaneous events that I’m currently associating with it. What almost certainly brought it to a head, though, was a recent visit from ni’tsitstakiaakii ki otani, aanataakii. Piipiiaakii ki niisto had returned from mi’kai’stoo that evening to find aanataakii running around in our living-room with just her diaper, acting silly ki trying to get someone, anyone, to pay attention to her. The other aakiiksi were huddled around isskohkitopiiaahkoyinnimaakii, poking at her, kissing her, laughing hysterically at her every expression. Seeing that we had visitors, I was at first very cordial. But it wasn’t long before the volume of noise in our living-room, especially in the form of naapi’powahsin blaring from both the television ki the aakiiksi, began to annoy me. Under normal circumstances, I can sense nitomopistaan as a congenial presence throughout nookoowannaan. But when there’s too much loud activity around, as there was that evening, I get the feeling that nitomopistaan recoils ki hides away behind our bed. Nimaatssksinihpa whether this is just projection on my part. I don’t think so. It seems every bit as real as when I’m aware that nitomitaa is hiding under her blankets in our closet, in similar avoidance of such frenetic activity. Ki soon I myself feel compelled to join them.

Closing myself off behind our bedroom door, ki laying down, I hope that I might sleep through the ruckus. Ki I’m almost successful when I hear aakiikoan hollering excitedly for ni’tsitstakiaakii. There had been an accident. Aanataakii, crouched behind a chair, was suddenly overcome with a diarrheic urge, the results of which had burst out of her diaper ki all over our carpeted living-room floor. Once the accident was noticed, nookoowa erupted in excited noise, ki ni’tsitstakiaakii rushed aanataakii to the bath. The little girl was humiliated, crying, ki oksisst consoled her by saying, “It’s okay, honey. Nobody knows it was you, and I don’t care”. From my bed, I could hear ni’tsitstakiaakii saying this. Ki I thought, why don’t you care? Then I came out to survey the damage ki order an immediate, thorough clean up. My first reaction when seeing the pile of diarrhoea was irritation. I thought, this was so easily avoidable. She should have been wearing more clothes, someone should have been attending to her. As the aakiiksi cleaned up, I went outside to smoke ki distance myself from the loud, messy scene. At that point, a wave of intuition hit me… I suddenly felt that the whole event was unavoidable, that it was meant to happen, that it had occurred as a natural result of aanataakii visiting nookoowannaan, being in the presence of ksisskstaki amopistaan. We were being shown something. What nitomopistaan was telling us was that there’s something really wrong with this poor little girl’s diet, something we need to begin taking seriously. In other words, what I felt was that the whole incident was a kind of warning. Ki moreover, that perhaps many of the agitations I’d experienced over the last couple years were similar in nature. Perhaps I had not just turned into a grumpy old man. Maybe there was more to it, ki the negative sentiments were merely a means of directing my attention to important matters.

I considered this possibility for the rest of the evening, ki the following morning drove up to siksika with naahsa, ki’naksaapo’p. On our way there, aiksisiikiniwa ki nitsinoaayi a number of omahkai’stoiksi. Both observations I took as signs that the transition into niipoyi had arrived. Ki at that point, again, intuition came. I was reminded that there are cycles to learning just as there are to the seasons. Perhaps, I rationalized, my winter training with nitomopistaan has come to its conclusion through the newfound awareness that states of agitation can be potentially functional. That they might serve as a kind of early warning system for significant issues to be dealt with. The challenge is no longer a question of what is wrong with myself or others, but rather what to do about the things I’m being shown.

05 May 2008

Aohkii Naatoyiiwa

ll Ainihkiyi Matsiyikkapisaiksi…

Just as I’d suspected would happen, when the last sliver of saommitsiki’somm disappeared, matsiyikkapisaiksi iimataniiyaa. The evening before, nitsipapainoaa naamsskii, an orange ki brown salamander… nitaanistaitsihtaa it’s a signal for us to go ahead ki plant naawahko’tsisi for the season. I doubt we’ll have another frost.

Matonni, piipiiaakii ki niisto travelled around kainaissksaahkoyi. We picked some asparagus at sspopiikimi. There were only a handful of nice fat ones; it looks like we should wait a few sleeps for the rest of them to grow out. Our next stop was at awakaasomaahkaa ookoowa. I wanted to throw my fish trap in the water there, ki to get an update from him about some of the niitsi’powahsin phrase recordings he’s been doing for the Kainai Studies website. Aaniiwa he had a chance to visit with Francis, who spoke about sa’aiksi in the past being so numerous that the oyiiyiistsi would completely circle most omahksikimiistsi. Francis aaniiwa this is what is meant by “momma’pis” (the same as we call our stone tipi rings). I was excited to hear this, because as an iiyaohkiimi it makes a lot of sense. It had taken me some years before I came to appreciate the parallels between moistom, niitoyis, ki kitawahsinnoon. In so many naatoyinihkssiistsi, we refer to kookoonnoonistsi as naatoyii. But what does this mean? At least in part, it speaks to the connection between kiistonnoon ki kitawahsinnoon. If we think of mansstaamiksi as niitahtaistsi, the limb-bones ki ribs of our ecological body, then what is to become of us when we pollute them, or pinch them down into narrow spikes with our dams? We’re hazarding the collapse of kookoonnoon, which cannot be other than our physical bodies. The other thing that impressed me about the idea of momma’piistsi being like oyiiyiistsi around omahksikimi is how it might enhance one’s appreciation of the camp arrangement at aako’kaatssin. There, kanakkaaatsiiksi ki mi okaan are all in the middle of the circle, essentially separated from kookoonnoonistsi by a body of water. Ki this reminds me of iihkitsikaamiksi ki pawaksskii… in both akaitapiitsikikssiistsi, it is a large expanse of water that separates us from the home of naato’si ki ko’komiki’somm.

These thoughts lingered with me for the rest of the day, as nitsitsiimiihkaahpinnaan – first up on mookoansiitahtaa, behind Buck Many Finger’s place, where we found that the trout had not made it that far upriver yet, then back in the wetlands around awakaasomaahkaa ookoowa, where the pike were small but hungry.

01 May 2008

Omahksisttsiiksiinaiksi Aipookakiiyaa

llll ) llllllllllllllllllllllll Omahksisttsiiksiinaiksi Aipookakiiyaa…

My favourite aspect of those ikskanaotonniistsi when we are called to kanoohsiistsi in sikoohkotoki is that – by way of making any afternoon work seem an uneconomical prospect – they afford me extra opportunity to visit the aohkiistsi ki kaawahkoistsi, to catch up on my observations of whatever changes are underway, or to harvest aowahsiistsi in their ripest seasons. Annohk ksiistsikoyi, after our kanoohsin for the Blackfoot Digital Library at the University of Lethbridge, was just such an occasion.

Having witnessed the sspopiiksi surfacing from their pond, I’d been very curious to learn whether, like last year, the pitsiiksiinaiksi would have also awoken. Surprisingly, piipiiaakii elected to join me, ki I made sure to approach the hybernaculum with extra caution on her account, instructing her along the way on how to conduct oneself in their presence. As predicted, we found basking omahksisttsiiksiinaiksi beside all the dens that I knew of. Piipiiaakii could only handle a short exposure to their power, ki I don’t blame her. The first time I encountered one in sikoohkotoki, every hair I had stood on end. Ki here on her first visit, I introduced her to not just one pitsiiksiinaa, but the whole extended family. Not surprisingly her stomach turned with fear, ki she was shaken for some time afterward. But at least she managed to refrain from complete panic.

After dropping piipiiaakii off at nookoowannaan to calm down, nitsitssko’too mi kaawahko. I took a few photographs of the omahksisttsiiksiinaiksi, as well as some of the early flowers that are emerging. I even tried tossing a fishing line in naapisisahtaa, with a nice grasshopper on the hook. All the same, there wasn’t even a nibble. There never is on that stretch. Near to the ground, musineon ki violets are both flowering yellow, reminding me that I must commit myself to gathering their respective roots ki leaves very soon if I want to take advantage of these early gifts of niipoyi. Also beginning to bloom are the otsiikinistsi. They present a further challenge to my ambitions of formulating an accurate understanding of ki’sommiksi, because to my knowledge their presence – no doubt fully blooming throughout the next cycle – is what is meant by aapistsisskitsaato’si. In fact, I believe it was originally called otsiikinaato’si. As we’ll always remember by reference to the history of miohpokoiksi, the yellow otsiikiniistsi used to signal that the calving season of the iiniiksi was finished, ki that it was time to go after some of those fancy newborn robes. But the presence of otsiikiniistsi this year means that aapistsisskitsaato’si will occur simultaneous with matsiyikkapisaiki’somm, if the latter arrives at all. Ki what to make of this odd dynamic, I haven’t a clue.