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Canku Ota
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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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Building Community Around Native Knowledge
by Annette S. Lee

In June 2012, regional educators, students, administrators, and astronomy enthusiasts gathered at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College (FDLTCC, Cloquet, MN) for the first annual Native Skywatchers – Ojibwe and D(L)akota Star Knowledge Middle School Teacher Workshop.

The two-day workshop featured the Ojibwe Giizhig Anung Masinaaigan – Ojibwe Sky Star Map. Created by Annette Lee (Dakota), William Wilson (Lake Nipigon Ojibwe), and Carl Gawboy (Bois Forte Ojibwe), the firstof- its-kind star map painting displays the Ojibwe constellations in X-ray painting style. The star map represents an interdisciplinary approach in which astronomy, Native culture, language, and art are all gracefully woven together.

The map itself is organized with Giwedin’anung, the North Star or Polaris at the center. The Maang–Loon Constellation, or the Little Dipper, stretches outward from this center point with all other constellations encircling it. Surrounding this northern group of stars are the constellations of the four seasons: Ziigwan–Spring, Niibin–Summer, Dagwaagin–Fall, and Biboon–Winter. Present in colorful x-ray painting style are Mishi Bizhiw– Curly Tail, Ajiijaak–Crane, Mooz– Moose, Biboonkeonini–Wintermaker, and others. Each of the four corners of the map is filled with Ojibwe star vocabulary such as: Jiibay Ziibi–River of Souls–Milky Way and Jiibayag Niimi’idiway–Spirits Dancing– Northern Lights/Aurora Borealis.

The workshop was led by Annette Lee. Supporting facilitators included: William Wilson, Carl Gawboy, Jim Rock (Sisseton Dakota), Charlene O’Rourke (Pine Ridge Lakota), and Jeff Tibbetts (Fond du Lac Ojibwe). A detailed Ojibwe Constellation Guide and related curriculum materials were presented to participants in hands-on sessions like “Follow the Seasons, Follow the Stars.” The workshop focused on experiential learning grounded in the current night sky and the four directions. Other keynote presentations included “New Paradigms on Indian Studies, Seasonal Timekeeping, Legendary Figures, and Clan Symbols.”

This work is funded by collaboration between NASA-Minnesota Space Grant, St. Cloud State University, and Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College.

For more information contact Annette S. Lee, professor of astronomy and physics,, or visit the website at

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Native Skywatchers

Native Skywatchers Middle School Teacher Workshop:
Ojibwe & D(L)akota Star Knowledge

Monday & Tuesday June 10 - 11 at St. Cloud State University
Thursday & Friday June 13 - 14 at Fond du Lac Tribal & Community College

Native Skywatchers Middle School Teacher Workshop
Purpose: The Native Skywatchers Middle School Teacher Workshop is designed for all educators & persons interested in increasing their knowledge of Ojibwe and D(L)akota Star Knowledge. Included in the workshop are multiple hands-on activities so participants will be able to experience the culture and the science in the most authentic and meaningful way possible.

Who Should Attend: K-16 educators; students in teacher training programs; those involved with the education of American Indian students including classroom teachers, teacher aides, curriculum specialists, library media specialists, guidance counselors, home-school coordinators, Title IX/JOM coordinators and administrators; tribal education staff; college and university faculty, staff and administrators; and all others interested.

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