Native American-Winter Solstice

Contribution by Barbie Stensgar, Colville Tribe, Arrow Lakes Band,

On Winter Solstice, the Sun is at its furthest distance from Earth, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. From this day forward, the days will get longer, and the nights will get shorter. This time of the year was something to celebrate for our ancestors.

Winters were very brutal for our ancestors. They were dependent on the food they gathered the previous year, with hopes that it would last throughout the winter months. They were challenged with the ability to hunt and gather food for their families, which largely depended on the amount of daylight they had each day.

Winter Solstice is known as our Indian New Year, it marks an important time during the year. When our ancestors explained Winter Solstice, they described it as the Sun beginning its journey back towards Earth. This meant new crops of our roots, berries, indigenous foods, and brought longer days for hunting and gathering. It was the promise of warmer, more comfortable days.

Today, we celebrate the Sun making its journey back while remembering and honoring the strength of our ancestors.

Happy Winter Solstice to all our friends and family.

Written by:

Barbie Stensgar

Colville Tribe – Arrow Lakes Band

*When reading this blog, it’s important to understand that we are telling it from the point of view of our ancestors. With science, we now know the sun isn’t the furthest away from the Sun on Winter Solstice, but this is what it felt like to our people during this time of the year.