T8ni Kizos Wazwasa – Winter Solstice
Terraced lines shine silver,
Layers upon the cross-hatched riverbanks
Threads of smoke rise still and silent from domed shelters
No dog barks at the half moon.
Long night gone in the morning chill,
Slow light gleams at eastward door
Sun comes returning, scarce recognized
But met with quiet welcome.
A long time we will go
A long time ’til we know
A long time still to grow
Along time, ever so.
Among the Abenaki people, the winter solstice is the beginning of the New Year. As elder Elie Joubert has told us, this time is known as Peboniwi, t8ni kizos wazwasa – In winter, when the sun returns to the same place.
The custom is to begin the new year by offering these words:
Anhaldamawi kasi palilawalian – Forgive any wrong I may have done to you.
N’wikodo io mina, liwlaldamana – I ask this as well, please.photograph of the author
Rich is a resident of Wantastegok (Brattleboro, VT) of Mi’kmaq, Wendat, and European heritage and an indigenous cultural researcher. He serves on the Vermont Commission for Native American Affairs and as a public liaison for the Elnu Abenaki Tribe, representing with governmental agencies of oversight. He works with the contemporary Abenaki community, partnering with a wide variety of other groups to provide outreach, build connections, and foster relationship.