Our Seasonal Rounds

The Seasonal Round is a representation of the Salish and Pend d’Oreilles movements and activities. The circle symbolizes a map and calendar that breaks down activities done in the different quadrants, embodying time and place. 

The Division of Education uses “The Seasonal Round” to teach students in the program the different traditional science usage. The class is broken up into three separate courses that follow the seasonal calendar (ecological indicators) to teach students what the Salish and Pend d’Oreilles did during that season and how it all correlates with science. Each course can be taken as a standalone course but the idea is you start in the fall and finish in the spring. Salish Kootenai College started offering the three courses to show future educators the different ways of learning and teaching a subject.

Traditional ecological knowledge that the round demonstrates shows the many different bioindicators out in the environment. The sighting of the buttercup in the spring was one of many different indicators throughout the four seasons. The buttercup sighting stood for a few things. That winter was over and good weather was ahead. It also represented that it was time for the tribe to come together and engage in activities. One of the activities was getting their fishing gear ready because Cutthroat Trout spawning season was soon to take place.

The major food source in the spring for the Salish and Pend d’Oreilles people was bitterroot. The tool they used to dig up the bitterroot and other roots are called pátsa. At first glance the tool looks primitive and simple but the science behind the creation makes it a complex design. In the early stages of the creation of the tools “observation” the first stages of scientific inquiry were used. The tribe observed nature in its activities like the bear. The bear was used as a representation of what roots to eat and not to eat. They observed the bear; how it stood, how it used its claws to dig up the roots, and other significant actions the bear participated in. 

They started out using a stick on their knees but soon found their hands to be sore. Pátsa was designed like a lever with a slight curve to ergonomically get plants out of the ground. It was custom-designed to fit the individual with the purpose of not needing to be on the ground and to ideally be able to dig all day. Indigenous science and worldviews relied heavily on design, form, and function to achieve sustainability. 

Winter was a time for storytelling and ceremonies. During this time the tribe would all come together in the winter grounds to pass on knowledge, partake in activities, reconnect with one another, pass on family traditions and lineage. Storytelling takes place in the winter months because during the other three seasons everyone should be busy making things and preparing to be sustainable during the winter months. The winter environment didn’t allow for many activities letting the tribe recharge, reflect, and prepare themselves for the upcoming seasonal rounds. 

Fall, winter, spring, and summer all demonstrate different seasonal indicators that through scientific knowledge and technological developments helped form The Seasonal Round. Education majors learn in-depth about The Seasonal Round through the year-long structured courses that by the end they can pass on that knowledge to their students. The sciences that they focus on range from but not limited to earth science, biology, chemistry, physics, and natural sciences. Learning both indigenous science and western science viewpoints.