The Cosmos in Native North American Myths, Legends, and Tales

Saturday, March 22, 2014
(This program continues for multiple sessions)
Saturdays, March 22 – May 3

10 am – Noon

Led by Lee Minnerly

Indigenous people routinely observed celestial phenomena as an integral part of daily life, then placed and interpreted what they saw in a context of spiritual and religious meaning. We will survey the rich astronomy-related content found in indigenous North American narrative verbal arts of the post-contact period. Tribes of the Eastern Woodlands, Great Plains, Southwest, California, Pacific Northwest, and Canadian Arctic will be the focus of this instructive collection of non-Western cosmology. The instructor will send preparatory readings in advance of the first session.

Lee Minnerly, an archives assistant for the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy at the Adler Planetarium, holds an MA in anthropology and teaches classes on cultural astronomy and the extraterrestrial life debate.

Materials List
Required:

  • Many assigned readings are from a volume in the Ayer Collection, Earth & Sky: Visions of the Cosmos in Native American Folklore (Williamson and Ferrar, eds. 1992); however the book is no longer in print. Accordingly, an instructor packet including articles and book chapters from the instructor’s own files and the Ayer Collection will be made available for purchase. Weekly readings will total less than 50 pages. A handout identifying resources for further study, including Newberry holdings, will also be available at the final session.

Readings for the First Session:

  • Instructor will send readings in advance of first session.
  • Williamson, Ray A. and Claire R. Farrer. 1992. “Introduction: The Animating Breath,” in Earth & Sky: Visions of the Cosmos in Native American Folklore, Ray A. Williamson and Claire R. Farrer, eds. (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press), pp. 1-24. Newberry call number:Ayer E98.A88 E18 1992

This class is part of the Newberry’s Adult Education Seminars Program.

Cost and registration information: 

Seven sessions, $210.
Register Online.