Old words, old things

Some of the old Prairie Potawatomi language

Also known as Mascoutens/Mshkwedens

Seasons and Months

Spring Munokumi or M’nokumet

Summer Ni’pin

Autumn Tukwagik or Tukwaguk

Winter Aptu’po or Pontesi

January Tcimko’kisus or Big bear moon

February Nabina-kisus or Sucker moon

T’kuni-kisus or wolf moon

T’konia-kisus or snow moon

March Tcitca-kisus or Crane moon

April P’kon-kisus or bark peeling moon

May Temin-kisus or strawberry moon

June Skuminuk-kisus or raspberry moon

July N’bina-kisus or midsummer moon

August Nipitasu-kisus or ripening moon

September Mishawa-kisus or elk moon

P’suksi-kisus or deer moon

October Amino-kisus or rutting moon

November Thiketcakon-kisus or Kupetina-kisus

Freezing moon

Pokta’min-kisus or cranberry moon

December M’ko-kisus or bear month

The Pantheon

Ketci Munito or The Great Spirit/The Big Spirit/Etc.

Tcipu’mame or Power of the Power (translated by Wa’puke)

Spirits of the Four Directions

Wasaiyapamwi’tut or The man who carries the light for us, also called


Sha’ota or the Deity of the South, he is brother of the preceding

Takapauwitu’t or The God of the West, also referred to as The man who keeps the Earth moist.

He is often identified or confused with Tcibia’bos, the brother of the culture hero, Wi’saka, who rules the realm of the dead.

Pontesa or Aponke; He who keeps the cold for us, the God of the North.

He is called Wa’boso, the White Hare/Great White Hare and figures in the cosmogenic myth.

There are many old words and old ceremonies that are not even done any longer in this present day. The Neshnabek were a deeply spiritual people that had ceremonies for most everything in life, including arising in the morning and each time they walked upon the ground. They considered their Mother Earth and living viable creation that should be respected and dealt with in a sacred manner. I recall many of those early morning ceremonies the old people did before they would venture out among the people.

I was told once that I should have a song to sing each time I arose from sleep to begin the day. That song should reflect a deep appreciation for being able to awaken and breathe the fresh air once again. I was to also begin the day with fresh spring water, after a prayer of thanksgiving to the spring it came out of, and to pour a little of it out on the ground before I took a drink. It was to demonstrate to the God how grateful I was to drink fresh spring water and to be able to move and breathe.

I remember how appreciative I was for life in general in those days. Those old folks that raised me had much to teach in the way of being thankful for all things, good or bad in my life. Many of them always had a song to sing and it was never a sad song but filled with joy and expectancy. They were glad to be alive and happy to be walking on top of the Earth Mother, Segmekwe is what they called her. They referred to the Earth also as Akiwitu’t, or the God of the Earth.

I have listed some of the old language from the Mascoutens, or Mshkwedens, a word many of the early white writers could not even pronounce correctly. It refers to the Prairie People, for they used to burn the grasses of the prairies at one time in the early Spring. They lived on those prairies of Southern Wisconsin and Illinois for many years before they were asked to remove themselves to the Kansas/Southeastern Nebraska areas and the Northwestern Missouri prairies as well, finally ending up in the Northeast corner of present day Kansas today.

I shall be listing some more of the old ways and old language in due time here on this site. I have not been feeling too good of late but am slowly recovering from a very serious health problem.

Nin se Neaseno embyegeyan shote.

Author: neaseno

I was born on Powers Bluff in Wood County, Wisconsin, into a traditional community of Neshnabek. I was raised speaking only native languages, and learned to speak English upon entering school at the age of 6. As of this writing, I am one of 5 remaining Heritage Fluent Speakers of Potawatomi.

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