The year 2014 has finally arrived and we have passed through the Killer Moon and are going into the Little Big Winds. The significance of the Killer Moon is that it is the time of the year when it gets very cold and many things will die and I guess that is why the Seminole Indians named it the Killer Moon. It not only pertained to human beings but also to trees, plants and animals, and even fish. So it got the strange name of Killer Moon.
The Killer Moon is followed by the Little Big Winds. During this time, generally, the snow starts melting or is in the full swing of being very, very cold. Today, on the Brighton Indian Reservation, in January, the Little Big Winds has arrived and the weather won’t make up its mind if it is hot or cold.
I live in a chickee hut. It is 40 feet wide and 100 feet long and the peak of the roof, from the floor to the top is 35 feet. And all I can say is brrrrrrrr. For it gets very cold. During the summer time my chickee is excellent. If the temperature is 80 degrees outside it will be 70 degrees inside my chickee hut. During the wintertime, if it is 50 degrees outside the chickee hut, it will be 38 to 40 degrees inside. Let me tell you, it gets very cold.
My chickee hut is traditional. I don’t have any insolation in the roof, so the wind just goes right through it and it keeps very cool. I have to put on extra clothing just to stay warm. I do have two rooms inside the house for the kids, which are insulated, with a heater and everything, so it is fairly warm in there but outside those rooms, you could kill a deer and hang it inside my house for several days and it would not even spoil. It’s that cold.
The last time I lived in a chickee hut I was 10 or 11 years old and I don’t recall how cold it was living in a chickee hut, but for us to stay warm, we had to put on a lot of blankets to sleep through the night and then, when we woke up, to stay warm, we would sit out in the sun in the morning to warm up a little bit. Sometimes I could not even move my fingers to button up my shirt, trying to get ready to go to school back in those days.
So I am trying to live the old ways and it is a little difficult because I have become accustomed to four walls, with an air conditioner and a heater. For some unknown reason, I decided to make myself a chickee hut to live in within the last couple years to experience my old ways of living…but, if I had a choice right now, I would revert to the modern days and reminisce about the old days. But it is a lot more comfortable than you would ever dream of.
Sometimes, I see people living out in Northern Georgia or Alabama and I wonder how those people survive, especially when they don’t have any electricity. You even hear about people dying up there because they froze to death. And I can understand why.
I’m glad I live here in Florida, where it does get cold temperatures but where you can stay warm and survive.
James E. Billie is Chairman of the Seminole Tribe of Florida.