Pawnee - The Star People

Pawnee - The Star People

Many of us have heard about the new-age tales of "star people". These star people, a opportunistic, new-age marketer belief, were a creation of Brad Steiger back in the 1970s. His 'creation' was built on ideas lifted from Native American beliefs. Steiger's beliefs are that some people have an extraterrestrial spirit. A spirit which grants them the ability to see other worlds, communicate directly with these other beings and are ideas based in ego. His and others commercial writings, and more modern definitions of star people, star seeds, indigo, crystal, rainbow people, and the like represent nothing of actual Native American beliefs.
more on that here

Anyways, on to the subject.

The original star people were the Pawnee. Though some tribes held similar beliefs in later times. The Pawnee saw their ultimate home as being amongst the stars. The Pawnee used the stars as guides. From these ideas they began to build their dwellings in the shape of domes. Which was a reference to the sky. The placement of their dwellings were also aligned with stars in the sky. The centers of their dwellings were held up with poles that were marked white, yellow, red, and black as colors of the stars. White stood for Sirius, yellow for Capella, red for Antares, and black for Vega. These stars are the Four Direction Stars.

Another important star was the Great Chief Star. Which, to us, is known as Polaris or the North Star. The passing of certain stars were important to Pawnee ceremonies, festivals, and spirituality. The Pleiades and other star formations were important to them and their planting ceremonies. One of the most symbolic group of stars to the Pawnee were the Swimming Ducks. They were two bright stars that made up the tail and stinger of the constellation of Scorpio, Lambda Scorpii, and Upsilon Scorpii. When they were seen before sunrise, in the southeastern sky, the Pawnee saw them as a sign of spring and a time to prepare for their spring ceremonies. Ceremonies that took place around the time when the first thunders of the seasons were heard.

M45 Pleiades Stromar
By Boris.stromar (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

The Milky Way also held importance in the spiritual beliefs of the Pawnee. They saw it as the soul pathway of the deceased. The region above the Milky Way, where there are no stars, is where the Pawnee believed that the spirits of the deceased returned to take their place amongst the stars. They also believed that the Milky Way was divided. One part was for those that died of natural causes and other part for those that died before for their time. Which also included death in battle. The stars of the east are, in Pawnee spirituality, male stars. Within the eastern stars is a red star, the Morning Star, which is Mars. It is seen as the greatest among the eastern stars. The stars of the west are female stars and the most important amongst them is the Evening Star, which is Venus. Another star, the Wolf Star, is representative of the wolf coming and going from the spirit world. The wolf running down the Milky Way is where the Milky Way gets its name in Pawnee belief, the Wolf Road.