OLAC Record

Title:Alaska Athabascan Stellar Astronomy
Contributor (author):Cannon, Chris M.
Creator:Cannon, Chris M.
Description:Book. Alaska Athabascan Stellar Astronomy Abstract: Stellar astronomy is a fundamental component of Alaska Athabascan cultures that facilitates time-reckoning, navigation, weather forecasting, and cosmology. Evidence from the linguistic record suggests that a group of stars corresponding to the Big Dipper is the only widely attested constellation across the Northern Athabascan languages. However, instruction from expert Athabascan consultants shows that the correlation of these names with the Big Dipper is only partial. In Alaska Gwich'in, Ahtna, and Upper Tanana languages the Big Dipper is identified as one part of a much larger circumpolar humanoid constellation that spans more than 133 degrees across the sky. The Big Dipper is identified as a tail, while the other remaining asterisms within the humanoid constellation are named using other body part terms. The concept of a whole-sky humanoid constellation provides a single unifying system for mapping the night sky, and the reliance on body-part metaphors renders the system highly mnemonic. By recognizing one part of the constellation the stargazer is immediately able to identify the remaining parts based on an existing mental map of the human body. The circumpolar position of a whole-sky constellation yields a highly functional system that facilitates both navigation and time-reckoning in the subarctic. Northern Athabascan astronomy is not only much richer than previously described; it also provides evidence for a completely novel and previously undocumented way of conceptualizing the sky--one that is unique to the subarctic and uniquely adapted to northern cultures. The concept of a large humanoid constellation may be widespread across the entire subarctic and have great antiquity. In addition, the use of cognate body part terms describing asterisms within humanoid constellations is similarly found in Navajo, suggesting a common ancestor from which Northern and Southern Athabascan stellar naming strategies derived. Comments: Dissertation note: M.A. University of Alaska Fairbanks 2014. Contents: Chapter 1: Introductory materials -- 1.1. Introduction -- 1.2. Literature review -- 1.2.1 Southern Athabascan sources -- 1.2.2 Alaska Athabascan sources -- 1.2.3 Canadian Athabascan sources -- 1.2.4 Alaska Athabascan dictionaries -- 1.2.5 Unpublished materials -- 1.3 Methodology -- 1.4 The Athabascan language family -- Chapter 2: The Athabascan starscape: Whole-sky constellations -- 2.1 Gwich'in Yahdii -- 2.2 Upper Tanana Yihdaa and Neek'e'eltiin -- 2.3 Ahtna Nek'e Neghaltaexi and Nek'eltaeni -- 2.4 Dena'ina Naq'eltani and Yuq'eltaeni -- 2.5 Koyukon Naagheltaale -- 2.6 Tanacross Neek'e'elteen -- 2.7 Fragmentary evidence from the other Alaska Athabascan languages -- 2.8 Chapter two conclusion -- Chapter 3: Linguistic evidence for a pan-Athabascan strategy for mapping the sky -- 3.1 Two widely attested Athabascan forms for the Big Dipper -- 3.1.1 Category A: Yahdii and cognates thereof -- 3.1.2 Category B: Big Dipper terms that share common verb stems and prefix morphenes -- 3.1.3 Category C: Other Big Dipper terms -- 3.3 Body part asterisms -- 3.4 Chapter three conclusion -- Chapter 4: The function and utility of Alaska Athabascan stellar astronomy -- 4.1 Stellar time-reckoning -- 4.1.1 A Tripartite stellar time-reckoning system -- 4.1.2 The Big Dipper and whole-sky constellations in time-reckoning -- 4.1.3 The morning stars in time-reckoning -- 4.1.4 The Sun in time-reckoning -- 4.2 Stellar orientation -- 4.2.1 Stellar orientation: A basic strategy -- 4.2.3 Stellar orientation: A complex strategy -- 4.3 Weather signs Interpreted from the stars -- 4.4 Stars in cosmology and religion -- 4.4.1 The creation or placement of the stars -- 4.4.2 Taboos, protocols, and other stellar beliefs -- 4.4.3 Humanoid constellations in Athabascan belief systems -- 4.5 Chapter four conclusion -- Conclusion -- References -- Appendices. Citation: Online version available via The University of Alaska Fairbanks https://scholarworks.alaska.edu/handle/11122/4817 Held by: UAFRAS
Type (DCMI):Text


Archive:  Alaska Native Language Archive
Description:  http://www.language-archives.org/archive/anla.uaf.edu
GetRecord:  OAI-PMH request for OLAC format
GetRecord:  Pre-generated XML file

OAI Info

OaiIdentifier:  oai:anla.uaf.edu:G009C2014
DateStamp:  2015-04-21
GetRecord:  OAI-PMH request for simple DC format

Search Info

Citation: Cannon, Chris M. 2014. Alaska Native Language Archive.
Terms: dcmi_Text

Up-to-date as of: Wed Apr 22 0:40:13 EDT 2015