Native Skywatchers – Reach for the Art in the Sky
Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture and Lifeways, Mt. Pleasant, MI
March 21, 2015 through September 26, 2015
In Ojibwe culture we look towards the Evening Star and honor Ikwe’ Anung – the Woman’s Star. In D(L)akota culture in addition to seeing a dragon, Draco, in the northern circumpolar skies, we know Wakiyan – the Thunderbird, located at the center of the precession circle. Woven into the Native constellation names like, Ikwe’ Anung – Woman’s Star and Wakiyan –Thunderbird, are important and insightful understandings of astronomical patterns and phenomenon that are too valuable to be forgotten. This living relationship with the cosmos is a core part of the cultural history and present day heritage of Native people. It is alive.
Native Skywatchers is an indigenous led initiative to revitalize and rebuild the star knowledge of the Ojibwe and D(L)akota peoples. In 2012 we created two Native star maps: Ojibwe Giizhig Anung Masinaaigan – Ojibwe Sky Star Map and Makoçe Wiçaå®pi Wowapi – D(L)akota Star Map. Right now is a critical time; much has been lost. At the same time, there is a tremendous demand and excitement for this knowledge.
Growing momentum is due in part to the MN State K-12 Science Standards (2009) that requires educators to teach how: “Men and women throughout the history of all cultures, including Minnesota American Indian tribes and communities, have been involved in engineering design and scientific inquiry.” Specifically Benchmark 188.8.131.52.1 states, “For example: Ojibwe and Dakota knowledge and use of patterns in the stars to predict and plan”.
This important work has many branches: interdisciplinary connections in science and culture, formal and informal science education, artwork and art programming, history and heritage, outreach and community wellness.
This show, Native Skywatchers – Reach for the Art in the Sky, presents four Native artists: Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeff Tibbetts and Carl Gawboy, and their connection to sky, earth, stars, and cosmos.
It is our hope that each person enjoying this show will have an increased understanding and appreciation of the relevance and depth of native star knowledge, and for some, a rekindling or deepening of a sense of awe and personal relationship to the cosmos.
All cultures, throughout human history, have had a connection to the stars. This artwork will help with rebuilding and remembering our Native Ojibwe and D(L)akota connection to the stars. Ultimately, we hope this dialog will serve as a stepping-stone to honor and remember all indigenous ways of knowing.