Society Track: Drs. Dawn M. Rutecki and Sherman Horn III

Dawn M. Rutecki, GVSU, Liberal Studies and Sherman Horn III, GVSU, Anthropology: “Tracing the Paths of Stars”

The importance of astronomy to Indigenous American communities is clearly manifested in material and cultural traditions. Astronomical configurations embedded in architecture and settlement design, artwork and iconography, cultural practices, and oral histories indicate a clear understanding of the cyclical movement of heavenly bodies. Astronomical knowledge was incorporated into many aspects of ancient life in the Americas, ranging from quotidian agricultural scheduling to the esoteric rituals needed to ensure order and stability in the universe. After a short introduction about how Indigenous peoples used astronomical markers and signs more broadly, we will discuss archaeological case studies from the United States and Mesoamerica that demonstrate ancient Americans’ understandings of worlds beyond our own.