Migrating to winter camps, Potawatomi would focus on attaining food through the trapping of small game and ice-fishing. Food that had been collected from the previous month’s hunts, harvests and gatherings were used to supplement diets. Meats and fish were smoked, dried and stored on elevated pallets to deter theft from animals, insects and raiders. Crops such as corn, beans and nuts were also protected; stored in subterranean pits and baskets.
During Bbongises [Snow Moon] Potawatomi and other Great Lakes tribes played a traditional sport called Zhoshke'nayabo or Snowsnake. Typically played by men and boys, snowsnake was not only for amusement, but for spiritual and therapeutic means. It is thought that the comradery amongst players remedied the sick. Games lasted for several hours and were played by teams of four, each equipped with a spear-like implement called a zhoshke'nayabo. Carved from local hardwoods and polished smooth, zhoshke'nayabo ranged from two to seven feet in length and one inch in diameter. The object of the game was for each competitor to hurl their zhoshke'nayabo, down an icy track, farther than their opponent. When thrown, the zhoshke'nayabo was thought to resemble a snake slithering, hence the name snowsnake. The team with the longest cumulative distance won.
With much time spent indoors, Bbon was the time when elders would tell stories, passing on oral traditions and histories. Wiske or Nanabozho were central to these narratives as it was considered taboo to recount them outside of the winter months. Bbon also brought stories of the Windigo, a man-eating creature that traveled in blizzards devouring ill-mannered children.
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