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Stars of the First People: Native American Star Myths and Constellations (The Pruett Series) Paperback – December 1, 1997
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From Library Journal
Wouldn't it be nice to have a book that located the stars in the night sky and also explained what other cultures thought their origin might be? Miller, an Outward Bound instructor and writer, has collected oral histories from various tribes throughout North America. This collection surveys celestial myths relating to creation, coming of age, hunting, and tricksters, and it conveys the values, rituals, and everyday life of Native American culture. A brief introduction to the constellations from the Ancient Greek perspective is included, along with star maps showing major features. North American Native American culture areas are broken down into major tribes, with entries varying in length. The book should complement earlier works on the stars or on North American Indians. Recommended for public and academic collections.?L. Kriz, West Des Moines Lib., Ia.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Miller starts with the conventional Greek constellations that still map our sky for professional astronomers, providing myth summaries and seasonal sky maps. Her stick figures of these constellations are a delight and I copy their details onto the daily sky charts from the internet.
Both the Greeks and our First Peoples filled their skies with peoples and animals. Only a few identities, such as bear and dog, straddle both hemispheres. Greek heroes and heroines may be banished forever to the sky by the action of the gods as punishment, or placed by a friendly god to protect them from the angered one. Animals and humans are often antagonists. I can't think of a creation myth. The dead didn't go there.
Our First Peoples connection with the sky seems ongoing and personal- get lost and you may wander into it. Die and you may walk up the Milky Way, past guides and obstacles. Suffer and you may find an opening to the sky or a rescuer who will take you into it; you may be homesick, come and go, but finally choose the sky. If you navigate by the stars, why not? It may be a refuge. The myths feel contemporary, the characters often ordinary, and creation feels recent. The animals may be small and hungry, brave or lazy.
Miller provides the myth texts as she finds them, supplementing with discussion and drawings- maps of their known or probable stars and historic diagrams such as rock art that may be relevant. The bibliography is broad. This book will be a good anchor for collecting other North American books coming into print or reprint. `
In addition to the star lore, Dorcas has also included a decent amount of background information on the individual tribes to help the reader better understand the context of the star stories. In the back of the book you'll find an extensive set of notes and bibliographic references for those interested in further reading on this subject.
Don Childrey, author of "STAR TRAILS - Navajo"
This book covers some Greek Mythology and whereabouts of the common constellations so that the reader has a basis to start with, and can find the star patterns mentioned in the book.
The book is then broken into sections of North America by going over the tribes that lived in each place. It covers not only that tribes star lore, but goes into detail about how each tribe lived, such as food/shelter/migrating habits, so that the reader can easier understand how certain elements follow into the star lore.
With over 300 pages of detailed information this is a wonderful book and I am happy to own it!