Traditional weather forecasts in Native American cultures

The Meskwaki nation and other indigenous groups use storytelling to keep traditions alive

There are a number of ways – satellites, radars, the FOX Weather app – to tell what the weather will be.

But long before weather technology was sent into space or downsized to fit in the palm of your hand, the weather was forecast by using traditional methods by indigenous groups.

"Most tribes throughout North America, we look at the weather for our way of life," said Larry Yazzie, member of the Meskwaki nation of central Iowa.

According to Yazzie, Meskwaki means "people of the Red Earth." The Meskwaki purchased their first 80 acres in the state of Iowa in 1857 to start building the Meskwaki Indian Settlement.

"For example, in my tribe with the Meskwaki nation, we have different ceremonies for different times of the year. Spring to us is the new year, new beginning — it’s the time we plant our corn, time to plant our crops. In the fall is when we harvest our crops, harvest our corn in a traditional way — we still do that today."

According to Yazzie, some of the other ways the Meskwaki gauged the weather was by noting the behavior of animals.

"There's an old saying that, every time we hear the frogs sing, spring is coming," he said. Hearing certain birds around their homes is another way to indicate the arrival of spring.

The seasons were also determined by using astronomical methods.

"The moon plays a significant role in our way of life," Yazzie said. "Our tribe and I know that many other tribes have certain ceremonies for full moon."

For Yazzie, remembering and sharing these stories and traditional methods is a way to help take care of the planet.

"We live in a planet that's so beautiful, that gives us life and gives us happiness and love," he said. "I want to make sure that I'm doing my part and making sure that we create a beautiful place for our kids, our grandchildren, our grandchildren's kids."

"These stories needs to be passed down to generations so that we can continue to preserve our world that we live in today."

Part of the storytelling involves festivals, such as the Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

For nearly 40 years, indigenous tribes across North America have come together at the festival, which has become one of the largest powwows on the continent.

According to Yazzie, the Gathering of Nations is "the Super Bowl of all powwows".

"It's a great opportunity to educate yourself about indigenous people," he said. "We're not just in the history books, we're not just in museums — we're alive, we're here and we celebrate life through music and dance."

The Gathering of Nations and other events help preserve traditions that are closely tied to preserving the planet.

"If you look around, these trees, these plants, they’re life, they’re spirits," Yazzie said. "That's what was taught to us as indigenous people in our teachings and our stories, that these are living spirits — they're living and breathing just like how we live, how we breathe."

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