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.