by Scott Powell, 1925
Contributed by Linda Fluharty.
ANTIQUATED TERMS Pages 316-317.
SQUAW WINTER, INDIAN SUMMER and POW-WOWING WEATHER were terms familiar to the early settlers of the Ohio Valley, but today they are nearly obsolete and have little, if any, significance, but to the early settler they had real important meanings that to them amounted to matters of life or death.
Squaw Winter was a cold spell of weather or an autumnal storm that occurred about a month after the autumnal equinox. Often there was a fall of snow and sometimes a few days of real winter weather. Squaws, who did all the work of planting, cultivating and gathering the crops, would hasten to gather the pumpkins and squashes frm the cornfields when such storms commenced and store them away in protected places and cover them with dry leaves to keep them from freezing and preserve them for winter use.
Indian Summer was mild weather, setting in a few weeks later and lasting from one or two to four or five weeks. The weather was distinguished particularly by the haze or smoke that appeared to such an extent it obscured the sun or made it appear as a ball of fire in the sky.
When the weather began to get cold and stormy in autumn and snow began to fall or was likely to fall at any time, Indians usually withdrew the warriors from hostilities and ceased to send war parties against their enemies especially against the whites, for various reasons. They did not care to encounter the cold storms of winter while on expeditions against the enemy, the white settlers, and also they were unable to conceal themselves from the whites as the snow gave them an opportunity to follow their trail without any difficulty and small parties were sure to be pursued and punished unless it was a very weak settlement and far from aid; they also would withdraw from hostilities to engage in their usual winter hunts to provide meat for food and furs and skins to exchange for guns, ammunition, blankets and other articles they procured from traders for their use.
The pleasant weather of Indian Summer was favorable for hostilities and at the same time not good weather for hunting, and they would frequently send out small parties - scalping parties - to harrass the settlements and commit murders, as the whites were likely to have returned to their farms from forts after a fall of snow, feeling safe from Indians for reasons given above.
Indians generally confined their hostilities to summer and the mild weather permitting them to return and renew hostilities was called INDIAN SUMMER.
Pow-wowing Weather was a short season of mild, pleasant weather in the latter part of winter, generally in February and which was generally good sugar making season and improved by both whites and Indians and while squaws were making maple sugar the chiefs and warriors would frequently hold councils and discuss proposed expeditions against their enemies the following summer, hence pow-wowing weather.