Niswak K8kwak – Two Porcupines

niswak k8kok

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Niswak k8kwak – two porcupines.

Pazgo k8gw mkazid ta pazgo w8bigid – One black porcupine and one white.

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Kwikweskas

kwikweskas-robin-pia8dagos-wantastekw

First robin seen this year! On January 28th… we are now into the beginning of the second Abenaki month, Pia8dagos, “makes branches fall in pieces moon.” Kwikweskas = whistlemaker = American robin.

We were out for a family walk in the skamonikik8n/cornfield ( just north of Wantastekw/West River near The Marina restaurant. There are a series of tamakwa nebisisal/beaver ponds at the back edge below the next terrace, where the river ancient course had been, many many generations ago… The steep bank faces south there and provides a warm, sheltered place on a bright winter  day. I had been hearing a bird call as we explored the frozen ponds, and couldn’t place the familiar sound. Just as it dawned on me (out of context), I saw a flash of orange motion and a robin flew over to a luxuriant spray of bittersweet berries on a tall tree. Another came to join a few minutes later. Kwai kwikweskasak!

Lodge Level

beaver lodge kwanitekw view

Looking south along the Kwanitekw in the month Sigwankas, early spring just before ice out, at beaver’s eye level.  To the left, eastward,  is Wantastegok Wajo shelving into the river. The Beaver is called tmakw –  tah-mah-kwah – the “wood cutter” (variants: demakwa, temakwa).This springs from the morphemes “tma-” meaning to cut and “-akw” or  “akwa” meaning a rigid or woody stem, a common suffix used in the names of many species of trees. Notice the relationship of tmakw to tmahigan, Western Abenaki for a hatchet or axe, which performs the same action as the beaver. Then take it a step further and you will see understand the Algonquian source of the word “tomahawk.”In this case, tma + higan = cutting tool.