The Stars We Know: Crow Indian Astronomy and Lifeways by Timothy P. McCleary
122 pages, $22.95 list
eBook availability
The Stars We Know
Crow Indian Astronomy and Lifeways
Second Edition
This fascinating ethnography explores how the Crow Indians have blended scientific observation with religious symbolism to develop traditions that are a cornerstone of their culture. For centuries, the Crow people have kept a careful watch on the heavens above them—particularly the cycles and movements of the stars, the sun, the moon, and certain planets. Their interpretations of these cosmic phenomena have shaped the principles by which the Crow live, providing a sense of right and wrong and an attendant set of values and ethics. The Crow speak of this celestial wisdom as ihké aléwahkuua, “the stars we know.”

In this illustrated volume, McCleary provides description and background but lets the Crow star knowledge unfold through the words of contemporary tribal elders, whose narratives describe the origins and organization of the universe and the history of con­stellations that have special religious interpretation and history. The Stars We Know, Second Edition is a valuable contribution to the study of Native American theology as well as an important record of Crow oral traditions.
“I like the length of this as a supplementary text for my course, Indigenous Knowledge Systems. It expands student understanding of the extent of ‘space and place’ and how the Crow connect to the universe.” —Marilyn Walker, Mt. Allison University

“This book on our traditions related to the heavens expresses a part of the native theology of the Crow in a careful, thoughtful, and detailed manner.” — Dale Old Horn, Crow Tribal Historic Preservation Office

“This book presents us with the world of the Crow—the meaning of the heavens into which Crow life fits. It is invaluable for grasping the traditional Crow sense of place, the place of human life in the universe.” — Jonathan Lear, The University of Chicago

“A brilliant piece of modern Native American ethnography.” — Peter Nabokov, University of California, Los Angeles
Table of Contents
1. Our Side
2. The Crow People and the Stars
3. The Bright Star
4. Planets: The Unpredictable Stars
5. The Twins and the Hand Star
6. The Seven Stars
7. The Sweatlodge and the Stars
8. Moving Lights of the Night
9. The Sun, the Moon, and the Milky Way
10. In the Company of Stars
Appendix: Crow Star Names of Unidentified Constellations