- 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
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.
within this Site
Being ][ Pawnee ][ Petalesharo