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Native American Sky Legends. Native American mythology is the body of traditional narratives associated with Native American religion from a myth-graphical.

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Presentation on theme: "Native American Sky Legends. Native American mythology is the body of traditional narratives associated with Native American religion from a myth-graphical."— Presentation transcript:

1 Native American Sky Legends

2 Native American mythology is the body of traditional narratives associated with Native American religion from a myth-graphical perspective. Native American belief systems include many sacred narratives.

3 Native American Sky Legends Such spiritual stories are deeply based in Nature and are rich with the symbolism of seasons, weather, plants, animals, earth, water, sky & fire. The principle of an all embracing, universal and omniscient Great Spirit, a connection to the Earth, diverse creation narratives and collective memories of ancient ancestors are common.

4 Native American Sky Legends Traditional worship practices are often a part of tribal gatherings with dance, rhythm, songs and trance e.g. the sun dance.

5 Star Stories Because the star stories of the Native Americans are typically passed down orally from generation to generation, the variations and interpretations of these stories are as varied as the people who tell them.

6 This collection is no exception — you will find different constellation names, and different stories pertaining to the same constellation. Star Stories

7 Remember, no interpretation is right or wrong, they simply represent different ways of viewing the universe. Star Stories

8 Creation Myths Stories of how the Universe was created and the Earth and people

9 First there was only darkness over everything. It filled all space. It covered the whole world.


11 The ancient Sun Father, dwelling in Heaven gazed around with his all-seeing eyes and saw that all was covered with water. So he rubbed his hands together and from the skin that flaked off, he formed two great balls.

12 Raising one arm high, he flung one of the balls into the water. It melted slowly and spread far and wide and

13 Raising one arm high, he flung one of the balls into the water. It melted slowly and spread far and wide and Then he threw the second ball into the water. That, too, spread all over, growing even larger than the first.

14 Raising one arm high, he flung one of the balls into the water. It melted slowly and spread far and wide and Then he threw the second ball into the water. That, too, spread all over, growing even larger than the first. It drew up all the water that was left by the first ball and became Father Sky.

15 Creation Myths In the beginning there was only darkness and people kept bumping into each other. Fox said that people on the other side of the world had plenty of light but were too greedy to share it. Possum went over there to steal a little piece of the light. He found the Sun hanging in a tree, lighting everything up.

16 Creation Myths He took a tiny piece of the Sun and hid it in the fur of his tail. The heat burned the fur off his tail. That is why possums have bald tails.

17 Creation Myths Buzzard tried next. He tried to hide a piece in the feathers of his head. That is why buzzards have bald heads.

18 Creation Myths Grandmother Spider tried next. She made a clay bowl. Then she spun a web (Milky Way) across the sky reaching to the other side of the world. She snatched up the whole sun in the clay bowl and took it back home to our side of the world.

19 The stars in the night sky have held meanings for many cultures throughout history. When stars form a shape or character this is called a constellation. Star Stories

20 Morning Star Wins Evening Star In the beginning there was only Tirawahat, which is the Universe and everything in it. Morning Star (Venus) and the Sun and the other males in sky were in favor of creating the world but Evening Star (Venus) and the Moon and the other females were against it.

21 Morning Star Wins Evening Star To win the debate it was clear that Morning Star would have to win the heart of Evening Star. Many had tried and failed, she was guarded by Wolf (Sirius), Cougar (Auriga), Bear (Sagittarius), Bobcat (Procyon), and worst of all, Snake (Scorpius).

22 Morning Star Wins Evening Star One by one Morning Star defeated them and won the hand of Evening Star. And so the world was created.

23 How to View Get comfortable Naked eye or binoculars Allow your eyes to adjust Use a flashlight with a red filter Use a star chart Have patience Train you eyes

24 Some of the most prominent Constellations that can be seen from Show Low in the Summer Scorpius: The Scorpion Leo: The Lion Ursa Major: The Great Bear Ursa Minor: The Lesser Bear Sagittarius: The Archer Cassiopeia: The Vain Queen

25 Native American Constellations that can be seen from Arizona throughout the year The Snake (we know as Scorpius the Scorpion) The Spirit Path (we know as the Milky Way) Long Sash (we know as Orion the Hunter) The Place of Decision (we know as Castor & Pollux in Gemini) The Bear (we know as Sagittarius, the Archer) Elk Skin (we know as Cassiopeia) Coyote’s Eyes (we know as Arcturus)

26 The Lost Children


28 This story comes from the Blackfoot Tribe, also known as the Siksika of the northern plains: North Dakota & Montana. The Blackfeet have been roving buffalo hunters, dwelling in tipis and shifting periodically from place to place, without permanent habitations, without pottery art or canoes, and without agriculture excepting for the sowing and gathering of a species of native tobacco.

29 The Lost Children There were once six young brothers who were orphans. They lived from handouts and wore castaway clothing. No one cared much about them except the camp's pack of dogs. They loved the dogs and played with them every day. However, people were unkind to the boys because of their ragged clothes and uncombed hair. The brothers were teased by the other children who wore fine buffalo robes. One day, the boys no longer wanted to be people. They considered becoming flowers but the buffalo might eat them. Stones? No, stones could be broken. Water could be drank, trees could be cut and burned.

30 The Lost Children They decided they wanted to be stars. Stars are always beautiful and always safe. Up went the boys to the sky to become stars (Pleiades). The Sun welcomed the boys and the Moon called them her lost children. Then the Sun punished the people with a drought. Meanwhile the people heard the dogs howling at the sky. The dogs missed the boys. Finally the dog Chief asked the Sun for pity because drought hurts all creatures. Then the rains came.

31 The Lost Children

32 The Seven Sisters This constellation is also called the Seven Sisters. Native American legend says that Devil’s Tower in Wyoming (a geologic structure jutting hundreds of meters out of the plain) was created to protect seven maidens being chased by bears. When all was said and done, the seven maidens were thrust into the heavens.

33 The Seven Sisters

34 Bear and Three Hunters

35 The Bear and Three Hunters Located on the Milky Way path, one Iroquois legend tells us that the Great Bear was pursued by three Indian braves. The chase began at the beginning of time when the first Indian shot and struck the Bear in the side with his bow and arrow.

36 The Great Bear - Shoshoni The wound wasn’t serious, however, and the Bear kept on running. He has been running across the sky ever since. The Bear’s path changes from season to season. In the autumn it begins low in the northwest. During this season, the arrow wound of the Bear opens slightly and a little blood trickles down upon the land.

37 Fisher Goes to Skyland It covers the leaves of the trees and dyes them red and that is why we have autumn.

38 Grizzly Bear - Shoshone A grizzly bear (Cygnus) climbed up a tall mountain to go hunting in the sky. As he climbed, snow and ice clung to the fur of his feet and legs. Crossing the sky the ice crystals trailed behind him forming the Milky Way.

39 Fisher Goes to Skyland Anishinaab e Great Lakes

40 Fisher Goes to Skyland Fisher was a small animal but a great hunter. Hunting was difficult in those days because it was always winter. "Come with me." he told his friends, "We will go where the Earth is closest to Skyland. The Skyland is always warm and we will bring some of the warmth down to Earth."

41 Fisher Goes to Skyland The Otter, Lynx and Wolverine traveled with Fisher up the mountains, closer and closer to Skyland. When they were very close Fisher said "We must jump up and break through to the land above the sky."

42 Fisher Goes to Skyland The Otter jumped up and bumped his head on the sky. He fell on his back and slid all the way down the mountain. Lynx jumped up and bumped so hard it knocked him unconscious. Wolverine jumped up and bumped hard against the sky. He jumped again and again until the sky cracked a little. He jumped again and broke through.

43 Fisher Goes to Skyland Fisher jumped through after him. They found Skyland to be a beautiful place, full of warmth and plants and flowers. They found cages full of birds which they released. The birds flew through the crack in the sky to the world below. The warmth of Skyland began to flow to the Earth and melt the snow.

44 Fisher Goes to Skyland The Sky-People came out of the lodges and said "Thieves! They are taking our warm weather!“ Wolverine escaped back through the crack but Fisher started working to make the crack bigger. He knew that if it were too small the Sky-People might be able to patch it. The Sky-People began chasing him and shooting arrows. Although he was powerful, they eventually hit a fatal spot.

45 Fisher Goes to Skyland The great Gitchee Manitou took pity on poor Fisher because he had tried to help his friends. He healed him and placed him in the sky (Big Dipper). Each autumn as Fisher is falling towards Earth the Sky-People try to patch the crack and Winter comes. Then in spring Fisher climbs back high in the sky and reopens the crack and Summer comes.

46 Ursa Minor - the Lesser Bear

47 Boötes: The Herdsman

48 Moving from the Great Bear to Coyote’s Eyes

49 Boötes: The Herdsman Arcturus The name is derived from “Arctos” The name means “Guardian of the Bear”

50 Coyote’s Eyeball


52 The Coyote liked to take out his eyeballs and juggle them to impress the girls. One day as he was juggling them he threw one so high it stuck in the sky (Arcturus).

53 Coyote’s Eyeball

54 Elk Skin This story comes from the Yakima tribe of central Washington

55 Elk Skin A Hunter killed a great elk and stretched the skin to dry by driving wooden stakes through it. Afterwards he threw the skin into the sky (Cassiopeia) where the light above shines through the stake holes forming stars.

56 Elk Skin

57 Spider God - Blackfoot The Spider God (Corona Borealis) sits in his web (Hercules) and watches over the land. Sometime he climbs down the summer Milky Way to visit the Earth.

58 Thank You If You have any questions, I will try to answer them.

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