The Red Star (Anpetu Luta), The Women’s Star (I’kwe Anung) and Venus: Lakota, Ojibwe, and other Indigenous Star Knowledge

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In Ojibwe the Morning Star is called I’kwe Anung, which means the Women’s Star. In Lakota the same planet Venus is called Anpetu Luta, the Red Star. Both cultures have rich and interesting understandings of Venus that relate to other indigenous cultures throughout the world. Venus is so often related to the feminine because native peoples carefully watched the movement of the ‘star’ and saw it in the east at sunrise for nine months and then in the west at sunset for the following nine months. Nine months is exactly the time for human gestation. Yet tragically the native star knowledge is disappearing as elders pass.

The Native Skywatchers project focuses on understanding the Ojibwe and Lakota importance of this and other celestial connections.

MN State Science Standards K-12 requires “Understanding that 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….For example Ojibwe and Dakota knowledge and use of patterns in the stars to predict and plan. And yet there is a complete void of materials.

Working closely with a team of culture teachers we are building community around star knowledge.

Keywords: Ojibwe Astronomy, Lakota Astronomy, Archeoastronomy, Indigenous Astronomy, Astronomy and Native Culture, Science and Culture Curriculum, Science Education, Astronomy Education, Venus, Venus and the Feminine
Stream: The Knowledge Systems of Science
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: The Red Star (Anpetu Luta), The Women’s Star (I’kwe Anung) and Venus, The Red Day Star, the Women’s Star and Venus

Prof. Annette S. Lee

Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Physics, and Planetarium Director, St. Cloud State University
St. Cloud, Minnesota, USA

Annette Lee is an assistant Professor of Astronomy & Physics and Director of the Planetarium at St. Cloud State University in central Minnesota. The crisis my work addresses is preventing the loss of Ojibwe and Dakota/Lakota star knowledge. Elders are passing. Otherwise knowledgeable native elders tell me that they “…just weren’t listening when the star stories were being told.” Others talk of new generations of ‘star readers’ and how the star medicine will be brought back by the younger generation. Interwoven in the star knowledge is the language, which holds keen insight and observation far beyond what people practice today. My goal is to help preserve indigenous astronomy and pass it on to present and future generations. The Native Skywatchers Program is about creating sustainable change by building community around the native star knowledge. Having graduate degrees in Astrophysics (Washington Univ. 2009) and Painting (Yale 2000) and a UC-Berkeley alumni in Applied Mathematics (1992) the Native Skywatchers project bridges many worlds—learning from elders; relating Native star knowledge to Western knowledge; inspiring youth in science; engaging audiences through culture, art and science.

Ref: Y12P0104