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The Yearly Cycle

"When the Sun sets behind the mountain in a certain place, the people know it's time for the eulachon fish to come."
 —Haisla artist Lyle Wilson

Native arts, ceremony, and religion celebrate the cycles of the natural world. For desert farmers such as the Hopi and Zuni, seasonal ceremonies accompany the planting and harvesting of corn, beans, and squash, focusing ritual energies on rainmaking to nurture the crops. Images of Sun, rain clouds, lightning, and plants—especially corn—appear frequently in Pueblo and Navajo art.

On the Northwest Coast, where fish is the primary staple food, the seasonal cycle is equally important. Massive "runs" of fish migrate upriver from the sea at specific times of the year, providing an abundant source of food. The yearly cycle also specifies times for hunting bear and deer, gathering shellfish, and picking various species of berries.

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