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Canku Ota
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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Native Skywatchers Team Encourages Participants To "Look Up" To Find Star Knowledge
by Joseph V. Sowmick - Saginaw Chippewa Tribal Observer Photojournalist
"Ojibwe Sky Star Map - Constellation Guidebook: An Introduction to Ojibwe Star Knowledge"
by Annette S. Lee, William Wilson, Jeffery Tibbetts, Carl Gawboy.
"Talking Sky - Ojibwe Constellations as a Reflection of Life on the Land"
by Carl Gawboy and Ron Morton
"D(L)Akota Star Map Constellation Guidebook: An Introduction to D(L)Akota Star Knowledge"
by Annette S Lee, Jim Rock, Charlene O'Rourke

Indigenous teachings encouraged 27 participants to "look up" as the Ziibiwing Center of Anishinabe Culture & Lifeways unveiled their latest two-day educational workshop June 18-19: Native Skywatchers – Ojibwe and Lakota/Dakota Star Knowledge.

Ziibiwing Assistant Director and event coordinator Judy Pamp said Ziibiwing, Central Michigan University's College of Humanities and Social Behavioral Sciences and the Olga J. and G. Roland Denison Visiting Professorship of Native American Studies collaborated.

The presenters include St. Cloud State University Planetarium and Native Skywatchers Director Annette S. Lee, from the Dakota nation, with fellow team members Bois Forte Ojibwe author Carl Gawboy, Fond du Lac Tribal, and Community College Title III Project Director Jeffrey Tibbetts and William Wilson, Canadian Ojibwe tribal elder and artist.

"The workshop is designed for all educators and persons interested in increasing their knowledge of Ojibwe and Dakota/ Lakota star knowledge," Lee said. "Included in the workshop are multiple hands-on activities so participants will be able to experience the culture and the science in the most authentic and meaningful way possible…"

Wilson provided illumination of his work during his afternoon teaching of "Growing up Traditional: Ojibwe Culture, Language & Art."

"We learn from those teachings of the ancestors who have walked before us and we see creation as the spirits see us," Wilson said. "We as Anishinabe people look past the outer surface and see what is truly there and we connect to the spirit world. This is why we see the lines of communication connect in Ojibwe art because when it comes down to the teaching… we are all connected."

Each skywatcher has a background in art, although Tibbetts offered a unique perspective into stone sculpting and working with mixed media.

"I've had to learn most of what I know about art learning on my own and by watching my dad carve," Tibbetts said. "We learn about things best by observing the people around us. What we can't or don't learn by observing others allows us to be creative enough to seek out new teachers and opportunities. I had to do that with both art and cultural things…"

As an archaeo-astromer, Gawboy enlightens in his awardwinning research treatise "Talking Sky: Ojibwe Constellations as a Reflection of Life on the Land".

"It is interesting to see where western thought and academia are still trying to catch up where they finally realize that native natural knowledge, and what the elders shared in their stories, is now referred to as science," Gawboy said. "Many of the old paradigms held as fact over the years have changed as the science of Ojibwe star knowledge is shared. Take for example, the old idea of Indian time: Part of Ojibwe astronomy is how they marked time. Native people knew there was a time to harvest medicine and crops and looked to the sky for that knowledge."

Jonathon Miller, adjunct science instructor of the Saginaw Chippewa Tribal College, attended the workshop and has offered astronomy and archaeoastronomy courses.

"It is important to integrate as much Native culture into the curriculum as possible," he said. "… I have read a few of the books that Carl Gawboy has authored and each one has had a profound impact my appreciation for Native culture. Both Mr. Gawboy and Annette S. Lee are people who are an inspiration to those of us who love astronomy and are very interested in learning about the Native application of it…"

The skywatchers concluded the seminar with participants forming a circle with the afternoon star high in the sky.

Lee offered a Dakota honor song on her shaker and shared a prayer of hope for all our relations.

"It is an honor to come together as we all our remembering, revitalizing and celebrating the history of Ojibwe and Lakota/Dakota Star Knowledge," Lee said. "This is the essence of cultural astronomy and many elders and Native people have bits and pieces of the knowledge so freely shared with them. We only know a little and we don't have to be experts but we can be humble and practice these teachings. The late White Earth Ojibwe Elder Paul Schultz had a vision that the young people will bring the star reading back… I believe that vision is happening today."

Pamp encouraged everyone to "get outdoors and take a look at the beautiful universe created by Gitchi Manidoo (Creator)…"

All are welcome to join the Ziibiwing Center on July 29 for an outdoor movie and star stories event with storyteller Larry Plamondon.

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Ojibway Stargazing
Artist Carl Gawboy joined Annette S. Lee's Native Skywatchers project in part because of a 2005 story he did for Lake Superior Magazine.
Native Skywatchers:
Ojibwe Giizhig Anung Masinaaigan ~ Ojibwe Sky Star Map
Native Skywatchers:
Makoce Wicanhpi Wowapi ~ D(L)akota Star Map
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