Garden Countdown

Tom Watson

In the millennia before the Greeks traced images of their gods in the stars ancient Native Americans connected those same celestial dots to create their own heavenly images repre- senting the spirits of their lore.

The Greek’s saw their great hunter, Orion wielding a club, a fleece draped over his shoulder; three dis- tinctive stars forming his belt, another line of stars representing his sword.

Ojibwe and Dakota star gazers saw that same array of lights as a huge beast, with expansive ribs flaring out from its backbone (Orion’s belt to us). Out beyond it’s body, the Pleiades constella- tion, the “Seven Sisters, was the head of that same beast.. Sirius, the bright star in Orion, was considered the tail, and a marker along a great spiritual loop overhead.

The Big Dipper was a wooden spoon to the Dakota; the Fisher Constellation to the Ojibwe - (Our “dipper” is part of the larger Uris Major/Big Bear Constellation). A Road to the Spirits/Spirit Path or River of Souls was how the Milky Way was viewed and the moon was com- monly referred to as the “Night Sun”.

The Greeks created the great figures of the Zodiac gathered across the sky from horizon to horizon. The ancient tribes saw their celes- tial figures as part of a great spiritual loop encircling the heavens.

We are in an ideal spot here on the lightly populated prairies for viewing the celestial heavens little if any light “pollution” to obscure a bright, dark view of what’s in the night sky. Minnesota’s only two official “dark- sky” areas are Voyageurs National park and The BWCA. Almost any remote county road in our counties offers quality viewing of those same skies!

You can view a Native American star map at: https://web.stcloud- state.edu/ASLEE/dako tamap/home.html. And, of course, you can always look up and create your own.