Teachings From the Turtle’s Back



The Native people of North America have always depended upon the natural world for their survival. Watching the changes going on in the natural world with each season, they also look up into the sky and observe changes. In many parts of North America, the Native people relate the cycles of the moon to those seasons. In every year, there are 13 of those moon cycles, each with 28 days from one new moon to the next.


Many native peoples, such as the Iroquois, the Ojibwe, and the Lakota use(d) the turtle’s back as a calendar.  In looking closely, the pattern of thirteen individual segments represent the lunar moons and cycle of seasons.   Edging the turtle’s shell is 28 smaller segments which are the days in each lunar cycle.


The larger segments are named for seasonal practices or natural occurrences.  The names of the moons and the stories that accompany them differ among nations and place.  However, all teachings are important and are to be respected.


The lesson learned is that all things are related and that we must live in balance and that we have much to learn from nature.