Event—Adult Education

First Astronomers: Indigenous Star Knowledge and Traditions


Explore examples of Indigenous star knowledge and traditions against the backdrop of Western astronomical beliefs.

The open cluster Messier 41. Source: Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS), a joint project of the University of Massachusetts and the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center/California Institute of Technology, funded by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the National Science Foundation., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Class Description

In addition to their rich intrinsic cultural value, Indigenous star knowledge and traditions challenge the notion that there is only one (Western-based) science and one astronomy. In fact, there are many astronomies and instructive elements of what has been called “Indigenous science” embedded within the world’s Native cultures over great expanses of time.

This class will explore examples of Indigenous star knowledge and traditions in a variety of cultural contexts over time against the backdrop of Western astronomical beliefs. This class will also introduce the concept of “Two-Eyed Seeing”: seeing the strengths of Indigenous ways of knowing with one eye and Western ways of knowing with the other.

Lee Minnerly, MA in Anthropology and independent scholar, has taught classes at the Newberry on archaeology, cultural astronomy, early science fiction, and the plurality of worlds. He is a former longtime volunteer at the Webster Institute for the History of Astronomy, Adler Planetarium.

Materials List


  • Instructor-Distributed Materials

First Reading:

Cost and Registration

Five sessions, $245 ($220 for Newberry members, seniors, and students). Learn about becoming a member.

To register multiple people for this class, please go through the course calendar in Learning Stream, our registration platform. When you select the course and register, you’ll be prompted to add another registrant.


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