Mother Earth, Father Sky

Through legend and imagery, American Indian ways of thinking can add a fascinating spin to your children's understanding of our planet's place in space, says John Stringer

North American Indians see themselves as part of nature, not apart from it or above it. They have always been aware that understanding the heavens as well as the daily, annual and seasonal change, was essential to survival. There is evidence that they made careful observations of the night sky; and these observations informed theiractivities.

But what can be observed cannot always be explained. The natural world is a place of great power. In their legends, Native Americans came to terms with this power and explained the inexplicable. Science and story both had places in their understanding.

On the following pages, legends explaining the origins of the Earth and the Moon are followed by a look at a Stone Circle in Wyoming, which was most probably an observatory, and ideas for using this imagery in your lessons.

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