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February 28, 2015

This Day in the Maya Calendar: March 2015

Cholq'ij, the Maya sacred ceremonial calendar of 260 days—a cycle of 20 Day deities and 13 numbers—is the basis of the Maya spirituality that survives to this time, practiced daily among millions of Maya people, in thousands of communities. The interpretation of the days can vary from one Maya people to another. The interpretations given here are based on sustained conversations and participation over three decades with Maya Q'eqchi calendar priest Roderico Teni and daykeeping families in the area of Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala, by Jose Barreiro (Taíno), head of NMAI’s Office of Latin America, and his wife, Katsi Cook (Mohawk). Glyphs representing the Day lords appear throughout Maya Country; these were painted by Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya) of Cobán.

For more background to this series, please see Jose's introduction, "Living in the Practice." For further insight into the role of the Day lords in everyday life, please see the Maya Journal. For the complete year so far, please see the Maya calendar archive.

Illustrations: Esteban Pop Caal (Q'eqchi Maya), calendar glyphs. Cobán, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala; 2003. Paint on wood. Purchased from the artist. 26/2685. Photos by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI 

2 Tzi  |  Tuesday, March 31, 2015 

6a01156f5f4ba1970b019b04c65ab2970d-200wiCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Tzi. Tzi is the Canine, the guardian; 2 is duality. Dog, Wolf, Coyote, Tzi can be snarly, terrifying the unprepared with his bark and his bite. Tzi people are zealous to guard the sacredness of ceremony, to identify and punish "intruders," those not disciplined to participate. Benevolent to friends and fierce to enemies, Tzi is steady to reward or punish. Tzi will punish those who disrespect the Days and the spirit of the family. This is a good day to ask for mystic insight for leaders so that they can seek and discover hidden things, so that they can be just. Tzi has strong sexual energy, hard to restrain. When this energy is defined, people born on Tzi make loyal friends, husbands, and wives. —Jose Barriero 

1 Toj  |  Monday, March 30, 2015

262685_TojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 1 Toj. Toj is the mystic Fish—the tear of jade and drops of rain, water falling; 1 is the beginning. Toj is a day of making even, a good day to pay spiritual and financial debts and to collect what you are owed. This is a day of evenness for a family, a good day for parents to pay the family's debt to el Mundo, good for the oldest son to appreciate the father and the father to appreciate the mountain. Illness can be deviated from the family by making a ceremonial offering on this day. —J. B. 

13 Anil  |  Sunday, March 29, 2015

262685_AnilCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Anil. Anil is the fertility in the seed, Anil is Rabbit; 13 is the highest turbulence. Anil is red, white, yellow, black—the four colors of corn, the seed of life that is the unity of the world. Anil is renewal after death, regeneration of the earth. Anil people are four-directions people and can be good travelers. This is a day of coming back, a day to generate and appreciate abundance, a day of declaring love to create a new relationship, a day to announce the wish to do business, a day of finding lost things, a day to ask for help in overcoming shyness. —J. B.  

12 Kiej  |  Saturday, March 28, 2015 

262685_KiejCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Kiej. Kiej is the Deer; 12 is the highest balance. Kiej is the four directions, four hoofs striking the earth at once, the quaternity of the cosmos linked to prayer, highest aviso to el Mundo—the living world. Kiej is the staff of authority, keen energy of a chief to detect danger, perception of the leader buck, his horns. Kiej is a good day to pray for mental and physical agility, a day of agile travelers and good communicators. It is a day also to ask for clarity before gossip and ill intentions. A major gift of nature, Kiej holds indefatigable energy. He is one of the four main carriers of time. —J. B. 

11 Kame  |  Friday, March 27, 2015 

262685_KameCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Kame. Kame is the Owl and the recognition of death; 11 is high turbulence. A day that recalls the night, tranquility, and silence, Kame is a good day to ask for the ancient and recent ancestors who have gone on, to thank them, and to remember them with purpose. This is an appropriate day to extend reconciliation, to feel and give forgiveness, to develop patience, to invoke against mortal illnesses, to access superior knowledge. Without fear, it is a good day to approach the spiritual dimension, "the enchantment." —J. B.  

10 Kan  |  Thursday, March 26, 2015 

262685_KanCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 10 Kan. Kan is the Snake; 10 is a high balance. Kan is the ancient origin—Gucumatz, the Plumed Serpent. This is a day of strict and impartial justice, a day of definition and maturity, and a good day to offer respect and to thank the corn. On Kan, matters of justice, judges, and courts can be cleared up. This is a good day to pray that truth and justice are manifest in the Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth; a good day to put aside jealousies and request equilibrium in life and in the family. It is a day to ask for physical strength and patience, to contemplate our spiritual evolution, and to rekindle the internal fire. —J. B. 

9 Kat  |  Wednesday, March 25, 2015

262685_KatCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 9 Kat. Kat is Spider, also Web and Fire; 9 is a triple rotor. On Kat the unity of the people is paramount, and knowledge is deepened. Kat is the network of the sacred heart, the family hearth. Today is a good day to pray for your family fireplace, the spirit of the fire that belongs in the home, the one that calls other spirits to ceremony and speaks for them. Kat is the net that hauls in the fish and the net that holds the ears of corn, a day that can bring the fruition of things and the untangling of complications. This is a good day to help free prisoners from captivity, to request vigor and power for the weak. —J. B. 

8 Aqbal  |  Tuesday, March 24, 2015

262685_AqbalCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 8 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat; 8 is a double balance. Aqbal is clarity, the separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. This is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things, a day to wash away tears of sadness. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. Aqbal is a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day. People born on Aqbal relate in the present and are a special link between past and future. They are early risers, good workers, tranquil and kind, strong before an enemy, good researchers and finders of hidden things, often called "the candle of the home." —J. B. 

7 Iq  |  Monday, March 23, 2015

262685_IqCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 7 Iq. Iq is Wind, also Moon; 7 is a pivotal number. Wind is powerful, violent, driven of itself, identity. A day of strong emotion, Iq is also a healing day. Good wind is nutritional for human minds; it is the mystic breath and vital inspiration of nature. On Iq, a breeze or wind that splits against your face is a blessing and a cleansing to purge your head and body of illness. Respiratory ills are prayed over on this day. This is a good day to appreciate all of Creation. The Day lord Iq is one of the four Yearbearers, or mams, a creator who helped finish the world and put breath (essence) in human beings. People born on Iq are inclined toward spiritual ways and can impulsively tap into cosmic sources. —J. B.  

6 Imox  |  Sunday, March 22, 2015

262685_ImoxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Imox. Imox is Lizard; 6 is a middle, even number. Imox is the very force of gravity and a good day to pray for creativity and for rain. Imox can open el Mundo to receive cosmic messages. Known as a "crazy" day, Imox requires much concentration and control. A day of high male intelligence, also impatience and agitation, Imox can be difficult. Grounded on its left side, left arm, this day is easily unbalanced and in need of clasping by left and right hands. Imox can be good if held in the balance of the Heart of Sky and Heart of Earth; unattended, Imox can manifest imbalance, mental nervousness, and even death. People born on Imox are open and sincere, but indecisive—in need of ceremony to set the positive to override the negative. —J. B. 

5 Ajpu  |  Saturday, March 21, 2015

262685_AjpuCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Ajpu. Ajpu is Caracol, Spiral Shell; 5 is one hand. Ajpu is the Sun, captain of time, a day of personal strength and for good to triumph over evil. Ajpu, who cares for boys and guides men, begins the men's cycle. This is a day to connect with the ancestors, who can reward and punish. Death is reachable and amenable; spirits can ask permission to enter el Mundo, the living world. Day of the warrior and blowgun hunter (cerbatanero), Ajpu is the strong blow of the dart that hits its target, a good day to pray for stealth or for a break in enemy lines. Ajpu is also a good day to start building on a house, a good day to make prayers for women and for success in lactation. —J. B. 

4 Kawoq  |  Friday, March 20, 2015 

262685_KawoqCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Kawoq. Kawoq is Turtle, also Sky Serpent; 4 is a balance. Kawoq is a high woman day—a day of duality in all of nature and a guardian of contentment. It is the day of woman and man, lightning and thunder, fecundity and imagination; a day of midwives; a day of prayer for unity within the home, strength within the family, renewed strength for convalescents, and the smoothing of all irritation. This is a good day to turn bad medicine back on itself. Kawoq attends to young women in pregnancy, labor, and delivery, and to full realization for all women; it is a day of their sash. Kawoq is also a good day to commemorate the Staff of Authority, a good day for the men of a family and community to pray for the coffers (good fortune) of the women and for the protection of the home. Good midwives, writers, and architects are born on this day. —J. B. 

3 Tijax  |  Thursday, March 19, 2015

262685_TijaxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 3 Tijax. Tijax is Fish, also Obsidian; 3 is a rotor. Tijax is a day of doctors, good to pray for surgeons and all medical practitioners; a day of sacrifice and liberation from suffering; a day of sharp, cutting objects, of knives and scalpels and scissors. Tijax is a safeguard for domestic animals against predators, a good day to pray for all animals that are sacrificed, both in ceremony and in everyday life. Tijax is a good day to use metal (a machete, scissors) to "open the sky"—to solicit rain, solicit life, split black clouds. Gossip, calumny, and sorcery, on money and sexual matters, can be overcome on this day; on a high-number day, disputes can turn public and become debilitating. Tijax is a good day for seasoned masters to fortify daykeeping trainees against ridicule by envious countrymen or evangelicos. It is not a good day to plant. —J. B.  

2 Noj  |  Wednesday, March 18, 2015

262685_NojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Noj. Noj is Woodpecker; 2 is duality. Noj is a woman's highest intelligence. Maya knowledge and wisdom live in this day—good science to support positive deeds, good projects, good business, a good home. On Noj good ideas are available through the intelligence connected to the movement of the earth. Boys born on this day have important female qualities and can be attentive to the knowledge of nature, which rules all. Girls born on this day can be clear leaders. This is a good day to hear advice and make decisions, a good day to feed the mind, recognize curiosity, and strengthen memory. Noj is one of the four Yearbearers. —J. B. 

1 Ajmac  |  Tuesday, March 17, 2015

262685_AjmacCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 1 Ajmac. Ajmac is Bee, also Vulture; 1 is the beginning. On Ajmac ancestor spirits can detect and smooth the thread of time in our lives. Prudence, intelligence, ancient wisdom are in this day. This is a day to plead forgiveness for serious faults and to be judged. It is a day that demands moral rectitude, respect, and sincere analysis. On this day our faults (stains) must be faced and paid for; humble request for pity is encouraged. Ajmac is a propitious day for the women of a household to make peace with one another after conflict, to apologize for sharp words; it is a good day to pray for smooth relationships and the renewal of agreements among women. Hard luck can face those born on Ajmac. —J. B.  

13 Tz'ikin  |  Monday, March 16, 2015

262685_Tz'ikinCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Tz'ikin. Tz'ikin is Bird, best represented by the Hummingbird, also the Quetzal and Eagle; 13 is the highest turbulence. Tz'ikin carries messages between the Heart of Earth and Heart of Sky. Cold, heat, light, air, cloud are its elements. Love, intuition, precognition are strong in those born on this day. Tz'ikin is a good day for humans to follow birds to the corn—to find good material luck. This is a good day to ask for revelation and intelligence, for vision, and for abundance; a good day to ask for collaboration in projects or for personal freedom. On this day, women have the privilege to ask for their husbands and sons to triple the family money. —J. B. 

12 I'x  |  Sunday, March 15, 2015 

262685_I'xCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 I'x. I'x is Jaguar; 12 is a balance. I'x is woman's energy day. This is a day to connect with your own land and to pray for its original owners; to pray for and appreciate your house; to pray for the finances to buy and sustain land; to ask for fertility in humans and animals; to request vigor and strength for reproductive organs, particularly female. I'x is a good day to pray to the mountains in favor of the land. It is a good day for a woman to request strength in her husband's commitment to matrimonial stability. People born on I'x have a close relationship to el Mundo and receive good access to precious metals. I'x is a good day for solitude and meditation. —J. B.

11 Aj  |  Saturday, March 14, 2015 

262685_AjCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Aj. Aj is Cane Reed; 11 is high turbulence. Aj begins the women's cycle, sentiments of family and home, the spinal cord. Aj is life and receives life. This is a day of resurgence and renewal, as in the reed and the corn; a day for the triumph of good over evil, life over death; a day of happiness, renewal of food, money, the heart of life. People born on this day renew their communities; they are sickly as children and sturdy as adults; they are especially lucky; they are good awakeners of their families and communities; they make good midwives. Aj is a good day to ask for clarity of destiny, a good day to pray for the protection of your life and of the newborn, a good day to pray for twins, a good day to pray for humanity. —J. B. 

10 Eh  |  Friday, March 13, 2015 

262685_EhCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 10 Eh. Eh is Bobcat, also the Path and the Tooth; 10 is a high balance. Eh can orient individuals, groups, or communities to their destiny. Eh is the day to ask for protection from dangers and obstructions during travels—specifically, that on your road the attention of thieves or highway police or border inspectors will be deviated from your trajectory. Solitude is in Eh, light rain, kindness, alignment. People born on this day can be good counselors, spiritual guides with the gift of prayer to Ajaw (Creator) on the destiny of things. Also, good dentists are born on this day. Eh is one of the four pillars of the 20 days, a Yearbearer—a strong, especially sacred day. A prayer started in Batz can be carried by Eh through the full cycle of 20 days. —J. B.

9 Batz  |  Thursday, March 12, 2015

262685_BatzCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Batz. Batz is Monkey; 2 is duality. Monkey braid, monkey fingers, monkey tail, Batz is the grasp of the monkey's hand so tight and braided the fist will not let go, even in death. Batz is a good day for beginnings, and for some Maya daykeepers, Batz begins the 20-day calendar. Batz is unity, a good day to tie things together, a good day for a marriage or to start a construction, a good day for initiation into the ways. Batz is the thread of time that rolls out from under the earth, weaving life until cut, weaving time into history. People born on Batz are calm and self-confident; they make good spiritual guides and leaders, and goodhearted architects. —J. B. 

8 Tzi  |  Wednesday, March 11, 2015 

6a01156f5f4ba1970b019b04c65ab2970d-200wiCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 8 Tzi. Tzi is the Canine, the guardian; 8 is a double balance. Dog, Wolf, Coyote, Tzi can be snarly, terrifying the unprepared with his bark and his bite. Tzi people are zealous to guard the sacredness of ceremony, to identify and punish "intruders," those not disciplined to participate. Benevolent to friends and fierce to enemies, Tzi is steady to reward or punish. Tzi will punish those who disrespect the Days and the spirit of the family. This is a good day to ask for mystic insight for leaders so that they can seek and discover hidden things, so that they can be just. Tzi has strong sexual energy, hard to restrain. When this energy is defined, people born on Tzi make loyal friends, husbands, and wives. —J. B. 

7 Toj  |  Tuesday, March 10, 2015

262685_TojCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 7 Toj. Toj is the mystic Fish—the tear of jade and drops of rain, water falling; 7 is a pivotal number. Toj is a day of making even, a good day to pay spiritual and financial debts and to collect what you are owed. This is a day of evenness for a family, a good day for parents to pay the family's debt to el Mundo, good for the oldest son to appreciate the father and the father to appreciate the mountain. Illness can be deviated from the family by making a ceremonial offering on this day. —J. B. 

6 Anil  |  Monday, March 9, 2015

262685_AnilCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 6 Anil. Anil is the fertility in the seed, Anil is Rabbit; 6 is a middle, even number. Anil is red, white, yellow, black—the four colors of corn, the seed of life that is the unity of the world. Anil is renewal after death, regeneration of the earth. Anil people are four-directions people and can be good travelers. This is a day of coming back, a day to generate and appreciate abundance, a day of declaring love to create a new relationship, a day to announce the wish to do business, a day of finding lost things, a day to ask for help in overcoming shyness. —J. B. 

5 Kiej  |  Sunday, March 8, 2015 

262685_KiejCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 5 Kiej. Kiej is the Deer; 5 is one hand. Kiej is the four directions, four hoofs striking the earth at once, the quaternity of the cosmos linked to prayer, highest aviso to el Mundo—the living world. Kiej is the staff of authority, keen energy of a chief to detect danger, perception of the leader buck, his horns. Kiej is a good day to pray for mental and physical agility, a day of agile travelers and good communicators. It is a day also to ask for clarity before gossip and ill intentions. A major gift of nature, Kiej holds indefatigable energy. He is one of the four main carriers of time. —J. B. 

4 Kame  |  Saturday, March 7, 2015 

262685_KameCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Kame. Kame is the Owl and the recognition of death; 4 is a balance. A day that recalls the night, tranquility, and silence, Kame is a good day to ask for the ancient and recent ancestors who have gone on, to thank them, and to remember them with purpose. This is an appropriate day to extend reconciliation, to feel and give forgiveness, to develop patience, to invoke against mortal illnesses, to access superior knowledge. Without fear, it is a good day to approach the spiritual dimension, "the enchantment." —J. B. 

3 Kan  |  Friday, March 6, 2015 

262685_KanCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 3 Kan. Kan is the Snake; 3 is a rotor. Kan is the ancient origin—Gucumatz, the Plumed Serpent. This is a day of strict and impartial justice, a day of definition and maturity, and a good day to offer respect and to thank the corn. On Kan, matters of justice, judges, and courts can be cleared up. This is a good day to pray that truth and justice are manifest in the Heart of Sky, Heart of Earth; a good day to put aside jealousies and request equilibrium in life and in the family. It is a day to ask for physical strength and patience, to contemplate our spiritual evolution, and to rekindle the internal fire. —J. B. 

2 Kat  |  Thursday, March 5, 2015

262685_KatCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 2 Kat. Kat is Spider, also Web and Fire; 2 is duality. On Kat the unity of the people is paramount, and knowledge is deepened. Kat is the network of the sacred heart, the family hearth. Today is a good day to pray for your family fireplace, the spirit of the fire that belongs in the home, the one that calls other spirits to ceremony and speaks for them. Kat is the net that hauls in the fish and the net that holds the ears of corn, a day that can bring the fruition of things and the untangling of complications. This is a good day to help free prisoners from captivity, to request vigor and power for the weak. —J. B. 

1 Aqbal  |  Wednesday, March 4, 2015

262685_AqbalCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 4 Aqbal. Aqbal is the Dawn, also Bat; 1 is the beginning. Aqbal is clarity, the separation of darkness and light as the Sun disperses the fog and obscurity of night. This is a good day to ask for a peaceful and happy daybreak, a day to find hidden and lost things, a day to wash away tears of sadness. On Aqbal, the sacred fire is recognized and appreciated. Aqbal is a good day to clean the ashes (renew the heart) of a fireplace and to present a new baby to el Mundo. A potential bride or groom can be revealed on this day. Harvesting of corn can begin on this day. People born on Aqbal relate in the present and are a special link between past and future. They are early risers, good workers, tranquil and kind, strong before an enemy, good researchers and finders of hidden things, often called "the candle of the home." —J. B. 

13 Iq  |  Tuesday, March 3, 2015

262685_IqCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 13 Iq. Iq is Wind, also Moon; 13 is the highest turbulence. Wind is powerful, violent, driven of itself, identity. A day of strong emotion, Iq is also a healing day. Good wind is nutritional for human minds; it is the mystic breath and vital inspiration of nature. On Iq, a breeze or wind that splits against your face is a blessing and a cleansing to purge your head and body of illness. Respiratory ills are prayed over on this day. This is a good day to appreciate all of Creation. The Day lord Iq is one of the four Yearbearers, or mams, a creator who helped finish the world and put breath (essence) in human beings. People born on Iq are inclined toward spiritual ways and can impulsively tap into cosmic sources. —J. B.  

12 Imox  |  Monday, March 2, 2015

262685_ImoxCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 12 Imox. Imox is Lizard; 12 is the highest balance. Imox is the very force of gravity and a good day to pray for creativity and for rain. Imox can open el Mundo to receive cosmic messages. Known as a "crazy" day, Imox requires much concentration and control. A day of high male intelligence, also impatience and agitation, Imox can be difficult. Grounded on its left side, left arm, this day is easily unbalanced and in need of clasping by left and right hands. Imox can be good if held in the balance of the Heart of Sky and Heart of Earth; unattended, Imox can manifest imbalance, mental nervousness, and even death. People born on Imox are open and sincere, but indecisive—in need of ceremony to set the positive to override the negative. —J. B. 

11 Ajpu  |  Sunday, March 1, 2015

262685_AjpuCorresponding with this day in the Gregorian calendar is 11 Ajpu. Ajpu is Caracol, Spiral Shell; 11 is high turbulence. Ajpu is the Sun, captain of time, a day of personal strength and for good to triumph over evil. Ajpu, who cares for boys and guides men, begins the men's cycle. This is a day to connect with the ancestors, who can reward and punish. Death is reachable and amenable; spirits can ask permission to enter el Mundo, the living world. Day of the warrior and blowgun hunter (cerbatanero), Ajpu is the strong blow of the dart that hits its target, a good day to pray for stealth or for a break in enemy lines. Ajpu is also a good day to start building on a house, a good day to make prayers for women and for success in lactation. —J. B.  

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February 14, 2015

Meet Native America: Darwin John St. Clair Jr., Chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe

In the interview series Meet Native America, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian invites tribal leaders, cultural figures, and other interesting and accomplished Native individuals to introduce themselves and say a little about their lives and work. Together, their responses illustrate the diversity of the indigenous communities of the Western Hemisphere, as well as their shared concerns, and offer insights beyond what’s in the news to the ideas and experiences of Native people today. —Dennis Zotigh 

Chairman St Clair White House conference
Chairman Darwin St. Clair Jr., representing the Eastern Shoshone Tribe at the 5th White House Tribal Nations Conference. Washington, D.C., November 2013.

Please introduce yourself with your name and title. 

Darwin John St. Clair Jr., chairman of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.

Can you share your Native name with us?

It's Owndabe. It means Stern, but my nickname is Sonny.

Where is your tribal community located? 

The 1868 Fort Bridger Treaty established the Eastern Shoshone Reservation in west central Wyoming for the Shoshone and Shoshone Bannock Tribes. It's now known as the Wind River Indian Reservation, and it covers more than 2.2 million acres. 

Where were the Eastern Shoshone people originally from?

The Shoshone Nation extends from the eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains, with the Eastern Shoshone and Comanche, west to the California coast, and south to Mexico. Thirty-eight tribes speak similar Shoshonean dialects. Each year there is a Shoshonean reunion hosted by the various tribes.

The boundaries of Eastern Shoshone country described by the 1863 Fort Bridger Treaty were for 44 million acres, which includes west-central Wyoming south to northwestern Colorado, northeastern Utah, and eastern Idaho. This area also includes the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, which became America’s first national park in 1872.

Is there a significant point in Eastern Shoshone history that you would like to share?

In the early 19th century, the Shoshone people were instrumental in the success of the Corps of Discovery by providing them with horses and guidance through the mountains. 

Due to the relationship we had with the U.S. government, during negotiations over the 1868 treaty we were able to pick our own land to reside on. So we choose the Warm Valley area of Wind River, on our traditional homelands, where we have been since time immemorial. 

How is your tribal government set up?

We still practice our traditional form of governance by way of having a General Council. It is made up of the people—all enrolled members over the age of 18 can vote. The leadership is six members who are elected to conduct business on behalf of the people, the Business Council. The chairman is selected from within the Business Council members. 

We are a resolution tribe, and we make law by passing resolutions. The main areas that require General Council approval are changes to the Law and Order Code, hiring of attorneys, changes to the Fish and Game Code, or changes to the Tribal Enrollment Code.

Is there any other functional, traditional entity of leadership in addition to your modern government system? 

Traditionally, leadership was made up of a council of leaders selected by their band or family group and responsible to the people they represented to make decisions on their behalf. Not until we got involved with the U.S. government did we have to appoint only one leader. 

How often are elected leaders chosen? 

Council members are elected to serve a four-year term. Each term is staggered, so there is an election every two years for three council members.

How often does your government meet?

Our Tribal Council meets on a daily basis, Monday through Friday. Eastern Shoshone General Council meetings are held on a quarterly basis throughout the year or through special General Council meetings when needed. 

What responsibilities do you have as a tribal leader?

To protect and preserve our treaty, sovereignty, water, air, wildlife, culture, language, government, and assets. To improve upon the education of all tribal members. To keep traditional knowledge for those tribal members unborn for generations to come and leave the future with something holistic and organic to build on. 

How did your life experience prepare you to lead your tribe?

Chmn Darwin St Clair
Chairman St. Clair at a Pawnee War Dance in honor of his nephew. The American flag in the background belonged to hi the Code Talker Phillip Gover, Chairman St. Clair's grandfather. Pawnee, Oklahoma, 2013. 

There is nothing that really prepares you for this type of leadership role. However, my family was always involved in the activities of my people, which meant that I was involved, willing or not. My grandfathers Herman and Wallace St. Clair—my grandmother's brothers—served on the council in the earlier years. My father, Darwin St. Clair Sr., served several terms on the council and also as chairman, along with my older sister, Sara Robinson, and a couple of my uncles. All served our people in this manner.

On my mother’s side my uppit (grandfather) Phillip Gover (Skidi Pawnee) was also a chairman and chief for the Pawnee people, along with uncles that served the Pawnee people. In fact, I have an uncle, Marshall Gover, who is currently the president of the Pawnee Nation. We are both leaders for the people, but leading different nations. 

So in my home I grew up understanding the importance of serving your people, growing up with traditional values, and the importance of education. I am greatly honored, privileged, blessed, and humbled to serve my people in this capacity.

Who inspired you as a mentor? 

I had many awesome mentors. Some were family members, coworkers, or colleagues, and some didn’t know they were mentors. They inspired me in different ways. But my first mentor was my grandmother Rose St. Clair, who told me traditional stories about the Shoshone people and how not to be. My uppit Phillip Gover, who sang to me Pawnee songs in his language and translated for me the stories behind why the song came about or was made. My mother, who taught me and showed me the importance of compassion for all people. My father, who taught me and showed me the importance of family, culture, and hard work.

Are you a descendant of a historical leader? If so, who?

My mother, Sandra May Gover St. Clair, was Miss Indian America in 1956. My grandfather Phillip Gover was given a Congressional Gold Medal for his service as a Pawnee Code Talker.

Approximately how many members are in the Eastern Shoshone tribe?

There are 4,274 enrolled members as of a recent count.

What are the criteria to become a member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe?

To be enrolled, a person must have a total of one-quarter tribal blood quantum and at least one of the parents must be an enrolled member of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. A person can use blood from another federally recognized tribe to meet the enrollment requirement. 

Is your language still spoken on your homelands?

Yes, our language is spoken, but very few members are fluent speakers.

What economic enterprises does your tribe own?

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe owns the Shoshone Rose Casino; the Shoshone Rose convenience store and gas stationMorning Star Manor, a skilled nursing care facility; a dialysis center; Eastern Shoshone Crusher; and Eastern Shoshone Construction. 


Eastern Shoshone Indian days powwow, 2014
Dancers at the 55th annual Eastern Shoshone Indian Days powwow—one of the largest powwows in Indian Country. Fort Washakie, Wyoming, June 2014.


What annual events does the tribe sponsor?

In late June there is the Eastern Shoshone Indian Days powwow, Eastern Shoshone Sundance is in July, and in the winter months we have traditional dances.

What other attractions are available for visitors on your land?

We have some of the most pristine and beautiful mountain ranges, lakes, and rivers in the west. We have fishing, hiking, and camping. There are also tribal historical sites and the Eastern Shoshone Tribal Cultural Center. 

How does your tribe deal with the United States as a sovereign nation?

We deal with all tribal, state, and federal governments as a sovereign nation.

What message would you like to share with the youth of your community?

Education is the key to empowering our indigenous people to continue to maintain, sustain, and improve the lives of all nations. This education cannot only be academic, but must also be holistic and inclusive of our indigenous worlds if we are going to obtain knowledge of our traditional ways and beliefs, and leave it to our future generations so that they have enough to continue on their path. 

Is there anything else you would like to add?

I'd just like to thank my family—my wife, Viola; our children Sunny Rae, Darwin III, Bryan Beaver, Sandra, and Noah Raymond; and our grandchildren, Blaine, Daisy, and Elizabeth—and to tell them how proud I am of them and how important they are to me.

Thank you.

Hou we hou—thank you


Photographs courtesy of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.
 

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From left to right: Representative Ponka-We Victors (Tohono O’odham/Southern Ponca) taking the oath of office in the Kansas House of Representatives; photo courtesy of Kansas Rep. Scott Schwab. Bird Runningwater (Cheyenne/Mescalero Apache) at the Sundance Film Festival; photo courtesy of WireImage. Sergeant Debra Mooney (Choctaw) at the powwow in Al Taqaddum Air Force Base, Iraq, 2004; photo courtesy of Sgt. Debra Mooney. Councilman Jonathan Perry (Wampanoag) in traditional clothing; photo courtesy of Jonathan Perry. Suzan Shown Harjo (Cheyenne/Hodulgee Muscogee) at Blackhorse et al. v. Pro Football, Inc., press conference, U.S. Patent and Trade Office, February 7, 2013; photo courtesy of Mary Phillips. All photos used with permission. 

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