broken days

Among Native Americans, 18th century, the time agreed upon for the performance of some undertaking. Lederer quotes a 1775 document: “Seventeen were the broken days..when the Choktah engaged to return with the French scalps.”

Willard Walker explains the origin of the term: “'Broken days' stems from the fact that many southeastern Indian groups coordinated their activities, military operations, etc. with bundles of sticks (batons rouges), one of which was broken each day until the appointed day came.”

Richard M. Lederer, Jr.
Colonial American English. A Glossary.
Essex, Connecticut: A Verbatim Book, 1985.

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