Walking in a Painting of the Stars: An Examination of the Possibility that Certain First Nations Boulder Monuments are Replications of Constellations in the Northern Hemisphere

By David F. Dahlgren.

Published by The Humanities Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Humanly constructed boulder monuments are scattered across the North American Plains; these include: ceremonial circles, effigies of animals and people, as well as geometric designs of different kinds. Since these boulder monuments contain little in the way of what are considered traditional archaeological data, I felt it necessary to try to associate them with information found in First Nations folklore and music. This would connect the boulder monuments to other First Nations cultural representations and, hopefully, give us some clues to their existence and meaning. There are many First Nations stories and songs about stars and the fictitious animals (turtles and snakes) and people (Nanabush) represented by constellations; therefore, I felt it was possible that some boulder monuments may be visual depictions of these mythic creatures. This paper uses evidence of astronomical references in First Nations folklore and ethnomusicology to demonstrate that some boulder monuments in Saskatchewan may represent specific constellations. This integrated approach to “reading” stone features will, I hope, provide new insight into how we interpret First Nations boulder monuments and other artefacts and lead to a deeper understanding of a very complex culture.

Keywords: Artefacts, Boulder Monuments, Ceremonial Circles, Constellations, Effigies, Ethnomusicology, First Nations, Folklore, Nanabush, Reading

The International Journal of the Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 4, pp.107-114. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.973MB).

David F. Dahlgren

Athabasca University, Canada


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