Ojibwemowin Audio - 13 Moons

For millenia, Native Americans have utilized phenological events coupled with traditional knowledge to keep track of time. For the Ojibwe, the happenings of the world help to influence the naming of the months of the year.

In the United States, we use the "Gregorian" calendar, which is a solar calendar consisting of 12 months. Traditionally, the Ojibwe followed a lunar calendar, which is 13 moons long. The timing of each giizis (moon) corresponds to important events in the cycle of life and nature.

Ojibwemowin (the Ojibwe Language) is traditionally an oral language, so it is important to not just see the words, but to hear them. Hearing and speaking these words helps preserve the culture of this special place.

Click on the name of each moon to hear the word in Ojibwe.

  • Pink, shoe-shaped flowers at the top of stems with large leaves at the base on the forest floor.

    Flowering moon. It is at this time of year that the flowers show their beauty to us.

  • A red berry with three-lobed leaves on the forest floor

    Strawberry Moon. The strawberry is one of the first berries to become available to eat in June.

  • Sunset across the lake behind a dark island with a moored boat on the left.

    Halfway Through Summer Moon. This moon gets it’s name from the midway point of the summer, the solstice.

  • Blueberries on a green bush.

    Blueberry Moon. Blueberries are one of the most important foods of the Ojibwe people.

  • Wild rice plants growing with a blue background.

    Ricing Moon. It was the manoomin, “food that grows on water”, that brought ancient Ojibwe to the Chequamegon Bay region a long time ago.

  • Close up of yellow and orange maple leaves on branches.

    Bright Leaves Moon. What a gift to have these trees show us their colors!

  • A red leaf and scattered brown leaves on a boardwalk into the forest.

    Combing Leaves Moon. After the trees show us their brilliant colors, they drop their leaves to the forest floor.

  • Winter light sky with a partially frozen lake and purple island in the distance.

    Freezing Over Moon. As winter grips the world around us the snow starts sticking on the ground, the wind gets a little bit chillier.

  • Snowshoe hare at night in the snow.

    Little Spirit Moon. What is it about the month of December that would be smaller than the rest of the months?

  • Northern lights in the night sky above land silhouette.

    Great Spirit Moon. The translation of this moon refers to the Great Spirit Moon.

  • Grayish fish swimming.

    Sucker Moon. This moon refers to sucker fish that spawn during this time.

  • Partially frozen lake with snow drifting across, an island and sun in the background.

    Snowcrust Moon. This moon refers to the crust that forms on the snow as it warms up during the day and refreezes at night

  • A child's cupped hands under a tap drilled into a maple tree trunk.

    Sugaring Moon. After long winters and with food stores running out, maple sugar was regarded as a special gift that came along with spring.

Last updated: August 26, 2021

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