Astronomy in Native North America

  • E. C. Krupp
Reference work entry

The astronomical activities and traditions of the American Indians north of Mexico were based upon practical observation of the sky but were not supported by a written language. For that reason, our knowledge of North American Indian astronomy relies upon the archaeological data, ethnohistoric reports from early encounters between Europeans and the indigenous peoples, and ethnographic information collected more recently by anthropologists. Although this material is distorted and incomplete, it enables us to outline the general character of North American Indian astronomy and to understand some of it in detail. All of these sources confirm that North American Indians farmed, hunted, and gathered by the sky. They developed calendric techniques to order the sacred and ordinary dimensions of their lives. They timed ceremonies by the sky. They extracted symbols from the sky. They told stories about the sky. Throughout all of the cultural territories, physical environments, and linguistic...

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg New York 2008

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  • E. C. Krupp

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