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The Arctic Sky: Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore, and Legend 1st Edition

5 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0888544278
ISBN-10: 0888544278
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John MacDonald lives in Igloolik, North West Territories, where he manages the Igloolik Research Centre for the Nunavut Research Institute. Over the past decade, in collaboration with the Inuit elders of Igloolik, he has been closely involved in the collection and documentation of the area's oral history and traditional knowledge. The Arctic Sky stems primarily from this collaborative work.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 313 pages
  • Publisher: Royal Ontario Museum; 1st edition (May 1, 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0888544278
  • ISBN-13: 978-0888544278
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #877,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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In this age of high-tech astronomy, we might forget the rich and extensive sky knowledge of the indigenous people, including the northern Inuit of Canada and Inupiat of Alaska. Living in Barrow, Alaska, the farthest north city in the U.S. has given me some great astronomical lessons from local elders, even as I venture outside at 30 below zero with my trusty Unitron 2.4 inch refractor, to scan the night sky.
Author John MacDonald is an astronomer and researcher in Iglolik in the new territory of Nunavut in Northern Canada. He surverys traditional astronomy through document research, but also through interviews and collaboration with Inuit elders in Igloolik.
The book also contains findings and traditions from Northern Alaska. Living in a place where the sun stays down over two months in winter, I was fascinated to learn about a number of customs and rituals related to the return of the sun, for example. MacDonald tells how young people were forbidden to play strings games as the sun first reappeared ---for fear that the sun might get caught in the strings and never fully rise again. Also how residents of some villages would get up on the roofs of their homes to celebrate the return of the sun.
There are many stories about familiar constellations, and words such as "Ullaktut", meaning "runners" which refer to the three belt stars of Orion. And much, much more.
Alas, MacDonald notes that traditional astronomy is now diminished in some areas, in part because people travel faster at night with snow machines, and do not spend as much time outdoors under the night sky.
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This book is culturally important for the Arctic peoples. All the stories about the stars, legends and how to orient themselves using the stars, I thought they were forgotten and it was too late to written them in a deeper perspective. But then I found this book and I'm grateful for the one who wrote it and of course for the Inuit who had amazing stories and knowledge. It is fascinating that knowledge and stories about the stars can range from Alaska to Greenland, with minor changes, because of the Inuit had no written language at that time. I love this book and now I can look at the stars and imagine the stories my ancestors had heard and told on for centuries.
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When I read it, I fell in luv w/ it. Specially finding out that Stephen King got his info about his latest book, Under The Dome, fr/ 1 of thier traditions/religions.
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Fast shipping, great experience!
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