indigenous star constellations

indigenous star constellations插图

What constellations are on display at Canada’s indigenous Star Festival?

On the display are Greek and Roman constellations in muted colors, with the constellations of Canada’s Indigenous cultures painted, bright and beautiful, on top of them: loons, fishers, thunderbirds, the hole in the sky where we come from, and Mista Muskwa, the bear that sits atop the stars we know as the Big Dipper.

What constellations are native to the Earth?

There are many beautiful indigenous constellations that you can spot in the night sky. These constellations include Scorpius, Orion, and Ursa Major and Minor. Even if they all have fascinating Greek history, some civilizations have their own versions of the tales.

What is the indigenous star story?

The existing Indigenous star stories were not just stories of “higher beings” and their often-amorous encounters, but were seen as part of an all-encompassing perspective of life and spirituality. Everything; the plants, animals, water, sky, and air were interwoven together in a complex web of life, understanding, and respect.

What is indigenous astronomy?

“Indigenous astronomy” is the first astronomy – the astronomy that existed long before the Babylonians, Greeks, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment. This website explores the many aspects of Indigenous Astronomy in Australia.


Astronomy is the oldest form of science. It helps us understand how to prolong survival and how to navigate the world while we’re here. Astronomy is critical in understanding the weather, water, and climate changes. It’s a pretty big deal.


J’net Ayayqwayaksheelth, the Indigenous Outreach and Learning Coordinator for the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), explains that there’s a vast diversity of Indigenous star stories that span our country.


There are certainly many ways to learn and experience the arts and sciences that comprise Indigenous sky stories. Ayayqwayaksheelth, and the ROM Learning Department, directed us to the knowledgeable and engaging Wilfred Buck. Buck has live virtual events, but his stories are also accessible on YouTube.

What did the indigenous people study?

But, Indigenous Peoples around the world have studied the skies since time immemorial and developed astronomical knowledge systems which were woven into their specific spiritual, cultural and social lives.

What are the three stars called?

The three bright stars variously known in western cultures as Orion’s Belt, the Three Kings or Three Sisters, is known as Ullaktut [3], or three runners or hunters in Inuit cultures. In some Cree cultures, the three stars are known as the Three Chiefs. [4]

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What are the names of the big and little dipper?

Take the Big and Little Dipper for example. Their Latin names are “Ursa Major” and “Ursa Minor” or “the greater she-bear” and “lesser she-bear”. But that’s not necessarily what Indigenous people see when they look up at the night sky.

What do they see when they look up?

When they look up they don’t see dippers or bears. They see a caribou, or herd of caribou in the larger constellation, and know it as “Tukturjuit”. [1] . The North Star is known as “Nuuttuittuq” or “the one that never moves.”. [2]

What is the myth of constellations?

Celestial mythology , or storytelling, about constellations has been shared through the generations. The telling and re-telling of elaborate and dramatic stories (known as “sky stories” in some cultures) about the stars and constellations created mental maps of the night sky.

How many children are there in the Inuit?

These legends feature seven children, generally six brothers and their sister, who are forced to flee into the sky to escape from a harmful pursuer. The Inuit, while not a homogenous culture, generally share a common cosmology. When they look up they don’t see dippers or bears.

What is the name of the gathering of far-flung Indigenous teachers, local youth community leaders, and, tonight,?

But how do you connect the two? That’s where Wilfred comes in. He’s a part of a growing effort to reintroduce Indigenous stories and traditions back to Cree and other Indigenous communities. This weekend is an example of that effort. Tipis and Telescopes, the name of the gathering, is a coming-together of far-flung Indigenous teachers, local youth community leaders, and, tonight, one science reporter from the United States.

How many star stories did Wilfred collect?

It’s direct fallout from the ways in which colonizing Europeans killed Indigenous people and weakened links to their culture. After more than 14 years of collecting star stories from Indigenous elders around Manitoba, Wilfred says he’s managed to gather only two dozen.

What animals are in the constellations?

Animals roll in and out of the circular frame—a turtle, a spider, a thunderbird, and a marauding bear named Mista Muskwa.

Why does Mars look like a circle in the sky?

The tilt of the Earth, the precession of our axis, the northern lights, and the peculiar path Mars takes through the night sky. “Because Earth orbits the sun faster than Mars, at certain times Earth passes Mars, [and] it looks like Mars does a circle in the sky,” Buck says. “Retrograde motion.

What is the difference between Indigenous and Western science?

Lee says this sense of connectedness is a unique part of Indigenous science. In Western science, knowledge is often considered separate from the people who discover it, while Indigenous cultures see knowledge as intricately connected to people.

What does Lee say about youth leaving?

Literally, and figuratively, Lee says, youth are leaving. There is a lack of hope. “That’s part of what the star knowledge brings, ” she says. “This sense of purpose, the sense of hope, this lifeline, that each person is connected. To the bigger whole, the universe, the stars.

What is the story of Mars circling around in the sky like a startled moose?

Just like the telescope that sits in the museum, the story about Mars circling around in the sky like a startled moose is also an instrument of astronomical observation. In 2008, Canada began a major effort to right the wrongs of colonization.

What would open up astronomy beyond the accepted norm of Greek and Roman historical knowledge?

Opening up astronomy beyond the accepted norm of Greek and Roman historical knowledge might bring a new generation of potential astronomers into the field, including those with more awareness of Indigenous issues. “How many people did we lose in science because they have some phobia of math?” Neilson asks. “If we could talk about science through stories, perhaps we’re helping students come in different ways to engage and interact with science and astronomy.”

Where did Wilfred Buck grow up?

Wilfred Buck grew up in the Opaskwayak Cree Nation, in northern Manitoba, and Ochek’s story is the first star story he learned, when he was a teenager. “An Elder told me that every star you can see with the naked eye had a story, had a constellation, had a name and a teaching attached to it,” he says. “Due to the historical trauma that happened to our people, anywhere from 75 to 85 percent of that knowledge base was wiped out.”

What is the future of indigenous astronomy?

The future for Indigenous astronomy looks as bright as Sirius —which, as one Inuit story goes, represents a white fox chasing a red fox into a single foxhole, which is what the star’s light flicker reminded Inuit stargazers of. (We now know that flicker is caused by atmospheric disturbances lower in the horizon of the northern hemisphere.) Next year, Ottawa will host the first Indigenous Star Knowledge Symposium. It was organized by Buck along with the Canadian Science and Technology Museum, NASA, the Canadian Space Agency, and Mi’kmaq and Algonquin people. The four-day conference will feature Indigenous knowledge keepers from all over the world, including the Māori people of New Zealand, Aboriginal people of Australia, Kayapó people of Brazil, Zapotec people of Mexico, and a number of Indigenous groups from North America and Africa.

How can indigenous knowledge be used in science?

One of the ways scientific communities can benefit from Indigenous knowledge is by learning to reflect on the ethical implications of their work , Cockcroft says. The Thirty Meter Telescope, which is slated to be built on a sacred mountain in Hawaii, serves as a perfect example. Native Hawaiian protectors have blocked the telescope’s construction several times, most recently in July 2019. It’s an issue with two distinct camps: those who give priority to scientific discoveries argue that the telescope’s construction is necessary because Hawaii is one of the world’s most accessible locations for stargazing, while others say the world has already seen enough of the devastating effects of colonization on people and land and any construction should be carried out with the informed consent of all parties. “Western science would like to hold itself above having to deal with ethical and moral implications, but here is a case where it cannot avoid doing so,” Cockcroft says. Many of the astronomers involved in making decisions regarding the telescope have likely never taken a course in Indigenous history.

What if you don’t fit in the scientific method?

If you don’t fit in the scientific method, you are the other, you are religion, you are culture. ”. Including Indigenous stories in education is important, he says; he doesn’t want students to think that “astronomy started with Aristotle and ended with Neil deGrasse Tyson—heaven forbid.”.

What constellation has a tail?

Few astronomers know of Ochek, though the constellation’s tail is likely familiar: it also represents the handle of the Big Dipper, the tail of Ursa Major , and has been used as a navigation tool for hundreds of years.

Where does Buck travel?

Buck travels to schools across the country, mainly on First Nations reserves in Manitoba, with two inflatable planetariums that look like navy-blue nylon huts. The presentations within are based largely on Ininewuk (Cree) teachings, but they also include material from Anishinaabe, Inuit, Dene, and Lakota cultures.

Why is Maang the Loon placed among the stars?

To commemorate his bravery, his image was placed amongst the stars for all to see. The stars within the region of the Little Bear was known to the Anishinaabek as Maang the Loon (pronounced, MAHng). Both Ojiig and Maang are beautiful constellations that fit the asterisms that they occupy, and are just a few of the constellations that are known to the Indigenous people.

What is the name of the constellation with three stars in a handle?

For example, the pattern known as the Big Dipper (three stars in a handle and four in a bowl, see below) is not an official Greek constellation, but a popular asterism that is part of a larger constellation known as the Great Bear or Ursa Major and is of ancient Greek origin. 1690 painting by Johannes Hevelius of Ursa Major, the Great Bear.

How many constellations are there in the Big Dipper?

There are 88 constellations that have become officially recognized around the world as a common reference.

Why are stars animate?

To the Anishinaabe, stars are animate because they move and have a spirit. Spirituality plays a big part in the universe because of both movement and energy. The Anishinaabek creator got his/her idea of creating the clans from the stars so everything starts with the stars.

What did the British see as the Big Dipper?

For example, the British saw the (Big Dipper) stars in the region of Ursa Major as the “Plough.”. The Germans saw it as a “Wagon,” whereas Hindu people saw it as the “Septarshi,” with each star being one of the Seven Sages.

How to understand the tribes?

To understand these various tribes and their cultural diversity, we would have to experience the context in which they lived, including their geography and their relationship with the land, sky, and stars in each season.

What did the ancients reflect on?

Often, under a canopy of tens of thousands of stars, the ancients reflected deeply upon our eternal stories of gods, good times and bad, personal development, hope, and desire. The elders of these communities would retell origin stories or related cultural teachings and it should come as no surprise that those stories took their place amongst …

What is the Emu in the sky?

The Emu in the Sky is one of Australia’s most famous dark constellations, holding special meaning for Aboriginal Australians. Now, it has been commemorated in a silver coin by the Royal Australian Mint. It features “Gugurmin: the Emu in the Sky”, from the skylore of the Wiradjuri people of central New South Wales.

What is indigenous astronomy?

“Indigenous astronomy” is the first astronomy the astronomy that existed long before the Babylonians, Greeks, the Renaissance, and the Enlightenment.

Where is Gugurmin from?

It features “Gugurmin: the Emu in the Sky”, from the skylore of the Wiradjuri people of central New South Wale s. The constellation artwork was produced by Scott ‘Sauce’ Towney, a Wiradjuri artist from Peak Hill in New South Wales.

What did Aboriginal people do to observe the Sun?

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people developed a number of practical ways to observe the Sun, Moon and stars to inform navigation, calendars, and predict weather. Australia’s First Nations people assign meaning and agency to astronomical phenomena, which informs Law and social structure.

What are the cultures of Australia?

The First Nations cultures of Australia – Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders – speak over 250 distinct languages and stretch back for over 65,000 years. This makes the First Australians the oldest astronomers and the oldest continuing cultures in the world. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people developed a number of practical ways to observe the Sun, Moon and stars to inform navigation, calendars, and predict weather. Australia’s First Nations people assign meaning and agency to astronomical phenomena, which informs Law and social structure. It also serves as the foundation for narratives that are passed down the generations through song, dance, and oral tradition over tens of thousands of years.

What are the 14 units in Astronomy?

The 14 Units are aimed at Years 5 & 8, and show how Indigenous Astronomy can be incorporated into the seven learning areas of Science, Mathematics, The Arts, English, Technologies, Humanities and Health. Please take some time to explore.

What are the four seasons of Ojibwe?

Carl’s father explained the four main constellations, linked to the four seasons – Naniboujou for summer; Moose for fall; Wintermaker, for winter, of course, and what Carl terms the most frightening of figures, Panther for spring. That constellation, which his father also called “Curly Tail,” was the warning of coming spring floods and a sign for people to move to higher ground.

Why did Carl and Annette get together?

Carl says that he teamed up with Annette in part because of a story he did in 2005 for Lake Superior Magazine. “Ojibway Stargazing” was based on Carl’s remembrances of night sky stories delivered by his father beside the campfire while they were out trapping.

What do you look up to when you look up to the stars?

When you look up to the stars, if you know any of the star configurations, you probably can pick out the Big and Little Dippers , and in winter, maybe even Orion, the hunter in the tunic with the star-string belt.

Who is Annette from Dakota?

Annette, a mixed-race Dakota Sioux woman and an artist as well as a scientist, has joined with others in reviving interest in the traditional sky interpretations of indigenous people around the world. Her Native Skywatchers project has been woven into two books, Ojibwe and Dakota/Lakota star maps, school and college curriculums and most lately inspired an exhibit currently on display at the Duluth Art Institute in The Depot.

Is a comment on a website moderated?

All comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive.

What is the Native Skywatchers initiative?

Designed by Annette S. Lee (2007), the Native Skywatchers initiative seeks to remember and revitalize indigenous star and earth knowledge. The overarching goal of Native Skywatchers is to communicate the knowledge that indigenous people traditionally practiced a sustainable way of living and sustainable engineering through a living …

What is the DoSER project?

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), Engaging Scientists in the Science and Religion Dialog Project ( DoSER )….spoke with a diverse range of practicing scientists and science communicators about engagement activities with religious communities. These scholars span a range of backgrounds, … but their engagement activities share some common themes – in particular being strategic, being respectful, and being human.

When will the Indigenous Voices in Astronomy exhibition open?

Lee, W. Buck & D. Pantalony, produced by Ingenium – Canada’s Museums of Science & Innovation and Nomad Exhibits, opening May 2023 | More

When is Stardust 2021?

Join us for a Video Production Premiere… Educators share their stories to inspire all, we are stardust! Friday, Sept. 24, 2021 from 7- 8 pm cdt. Everyone welcome… View (Coming Soon)

Who is the author of Relearning the Star Stories of Indigenous Peoples?

"Relearning The Star Stories Of Indigenous Peoples: How the lost constellations of Indigenous North Americans can connect culture, science, and inspire the next generation of scientists." Interview by C. Taylor, Featuring the work of W. Buck and A. Lee, Nov. 2019