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Stars - Indians were keen and interested observers of the stars.  Just as a rock, a river, a tree, the earth, the night, the storm - everything in nature - was a spirit or man being to them, so was a star in the Indian's mythology.  Some worshiped certain stars, while others believed they foretold important events, such as weather conditions.

The great Dipper, known as "The Clock of the Yaquis," was used in the Southwest to tell the time of night.  The Great Dipper swung around the North Star every twenty-four hours, the clock's "hands" being the stars known to the white mass as Alpha and Beta.  By the relation of these "hands" to the North Star, the progress of the night could be determined.  Cowboys learned this from the Indians and were able to "tell time" during the long hours of night herding.

The Arapaho called the Great Dipper the "Broken Back."  Mars they termed "The Big Star"; Jupiter, "The Morning Star," and when it was an evening star they called it "The Lance."  Other tribes called Jupiter "The Winter Star."  Venus was "The Day Star."

The Pawnee Indians worshiped the Morning Star.  They knew enough about stars, they claimed, to foretell weather conditions by them, and the proper time to plant maize.

The Dakota believed that Ursa major, or the Great Bear, represented a band of foxes.  The king of the foxes had been killed in the "Bear's Teepee," which was that cluster of stars to the left of the Dipper.  the four stars, Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, which form the square, were those who were carrying the dead king in a blanket.

The Dakota termed Epsilon, or Alioth, in the Great Bear, the "medicine Man."  Zeta, or Mizar, the middle star in the Dipper handle, was "the woman with the baby on her back," the baby being Alcor, the little star just above Mizar.  Alcor, barely visible to the naked eye, was used by the Dakota as well as other Indians to test the keenness of a warrior's eyesight.

Some Indians while smoking, would point the stem of the pipe at these stars, and pray that they would be released so that they would not have to wander continually on their circular trail.
 
 

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