I absolutely love this. Women in the Native American Yakima tribe were the keepers of history, passing it down through generations using a time ball, or “ititamat.” Young women used hemp twine to record life histories by tying different knots for days and weeks and adding special beads for significant moments. Ititamat means “counting the days” or “counting calendar,” and the ball of twine grew with each passing day, month, year, and event worth counting.
We could all use a tradition like this. Imagine how precious we’d hold each moment if we captured it like this. Each knot and bead would evoke a memory or stand for something special. Here, our history, our lives, all tied up into something so simply and elegantly captured to be passed along to our daughters, and to our sons.
When we aged, just like the venerable Yakima women, we’d use those knots and beads to remember what meant so much to us, and to recount those important moments to others, and to ourselves. Perhaps painstakingly capturing them in a ball of twine would somehow make us more grateful for the richness of our lives and the things that really mattered rather than what society told us should matter. Grateful for ancient wisdom.
This time ball is on display at the Museum of the American Indian in Washington, DC.