YNC at Nocturne 2018 – Illuminating Stories from the Sky


Saturday, October 13, 2018
6:00 pm - 11:30 pm


The YNC is once again holding an activity at the Nocturne Festival this fall!

The YNC would like to share an aspect of one of the oldest natural sciences, astronomy. The First Nations people have studied the sky for tens of thousands of years; Western culture since the time of the Greeks. Western science and Indigenous knowledge both try to make sense of the world around us but are conceptualized differently. In the case of astronomy, the same set of stars in the night sky are couched in different languages. In Western astronomy the sky is filled with abstract constellations, whereas First nations star stories are lessons that educate us about the relationship between the sky and the land. The goal of our activity is to decolonize our understanding of the night sky and crack open the one-sided education and experience many have about this field.

Our activity will have participants make paper bag lanterns that explore the different ways First Nations and Western science interpret the constellations of Ursa Major/The Big Dipper and Corona Borealis. In the Mi’kmaq culture this star pattern is sometimes described through a story called “Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters”. It is a traditional Mi’kmaq sky story that has been handed down from orally from generation to generation explaining the movement of the constellations Ursa Major/Big Dipper and Corona Borealis (the bears den), as they shift in the night sky, linking the annual cycle of the seasons with the movement of stars about the North Celestial pole (Tatapn/ North Star).

We will use white paper bags with battery operated tea lights inside for illumination. As they make their lanterns they will also be guided through the story about “Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters” and will be directed to create this scene on one side of the bags. Stars will be hole punched to shine through both sides of the bag when lit up. The final product will have the same star pattern on each side of the bag, one side having the Mi’kmaq story of Muin and the Seven Bird Hunters and the other illustrating the Western science constellation of Ursa Major and Corona Borealis


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Museum of Natural History

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