Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.

Posts tagged “Weather

How did pre-colonization Midwestern Native Americans deal with tornados?

There is the account of Iseeo, a Kiowa informant to the anthropologist James Mooney. The Kiowa called tornadoes Mánkayía. Mánkayía was a great medicine horse, or a horse-like spirit.

Here is an excerpt from Iseeo’s account. Iseeo was a member of a war party returning from a raid against the Utes, when they encountered a tornado near the Washita River in Oklahoma.

Suddenly, the leader of the party shouted for the men to dismount and prepare for a hard rain. Soon, too, with the approaching cloud, lseeo recalled hearing a -roar that sounded like buffalo in the rutting season. Sloping down from the cloud a sleeve appeared, its center red; from this lightning shot out. The tremendous funnel tore through the timber bordering the Washita. heaving trees into the air.

Some of the young men wanted to run away, but the older, more experienced Kiowas knew what must be done. They called for everyone to try hard and brace themselves. The elders drew their pipes from saddlebags and lit them. They raised their pipes to the storm spirit, entreating it to smoke, and to go around them. The cloud heard their prayers, lseeo explained, and passed by.

This group, at least, tried to make peace with Mánkayía so that they could escape unharmed.

 

Read more of the account (last page, PDF) here, and the whole article is certainly interesting.(https://esirc.emporia.edu/bitstream/handle/123456789/904/Marchand%20Vol%2026%20Num%202.pdf?sequence=1)

The source is Mankaya and the Kiowa Indians: Survival, Myth and the Tornado. By Michael Marchand. pg. 19 Heritage of the Great Plains, VOL. XXVI, #2 SUMMER 1993 Emporia State University.

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One of the worst storms of the Dust Bowl, ‘Black Sunday’ was said to have stripped the Earth of ~600,000,000 pounds of fertile Prairie topsoil; April 14, 1935.

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And this is what lead to the Soil Conservation Act.

“People caught in their own yards grope for the doorstep. Cars come to a standstill, for no light in the world can penetrate that swirling murk…. The nightmare is deepest during the storms. But on the occasional bright day and the usual gray day we cannot shake from it. We live with the dust, eat it, sleep with it, watch it strip us of possessions and the hope of possessions” – Avis D. Carlson, The New Republic

Here’s a map of where the storms took place:

dustbowlmapSoil ended up as far away as Washington, D.C.


 

 


Mississippi River frozen solid, February 1905

Even crazier, the Niagara Falls frozen solid.

That’s the Eads Bridge, which is in St Louis. Carnegie was an early shareholder in the St Louis Bridge Company, and the bridge was built of Carnegie-made steel. But Carnegie wasn’t personally involved in the design or construction of the bridge; he sold out his stock in the company early in construction, and had a tempestuous relationship with James Eads (the head of the company, the bridge’s designer, and ultimately its namesake).


Dust storm approaching Stratford, Texas, 18th April 1935

Get them chickens in the cellar, Gladis!

Get them chickens in the cellar, Gladis!

One of my favorite books is called “The Worst Hard Time” by Timothy Egan. It’s about the dust storms and resulting dust bowl in the 1930s and what precipitated them. And how people coped (usually by leaving.)

NOAA George E. Marsh Album, theb1365, Historic C&GS Collection