Ruth Hopkins: Lakota science connected to spiritual beliefs

"Before Galileo Galilei and Sir Isaac Newton, the Lakota studied astronomy. Many indigenous peoples did. They were natural scientists. What sets indigenous “ethnoastronomy” apart from mainstream western astronomy is native peoples didn’t feel the need to separate their spiritual beliefs from other areas of their lives. The Lakota truly believed everything was interconnected. As a result, hard science observations and discoveries deciphered by Lakota over millennia are always intermingled with their spiritual beliefs, practices and ceremonies. In spite of frequent attempts by the western establishment to destroy such traditional knowledge, some has survived.

Like the ancient Greeks, Lakota named stars, constellations, and other heavenly bodies. Legends often relayed morals, as well as valid scientific information. The legend of Lakota hero Fallen Star tells us he was the son of the North Star and a Lakota woman. When his mother fell back to Earth through a hole she had dug in the sky while digging for turnips, he was adopted by the Lakota people. He matured quickly, and before long he realized his destiny was to protect the Lakota. Fallen Star rescued seven Lakota maidens from a red eagle by placing them in the night sky as Wicincala Sakowin, the Seven Little Girls, known to the Greeks as The Pleiades. Today, Fallen Star is said to inhabit the night sky near Wanagi Tacanku, or the “Trail of Spirits”—called The Milky Way by westerners. According to Lakota belief, Wanagi Tacanku is where Lakota go after their physical bodies die."

Get the Story:
Ruth Hopkins: The God Particle and Wisdom of the Ancients: Modern Science ‘Discovering’ What Our Indigenous Ancestors Surmised a Millennium Ago (Indian Country Today 1/12)

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