The Seven Daughters of the Moon and Sun - The Pleiades

Seven sisters ignore their father’s instructions and descent to Earth in a basket.

The Anishinabe of Central North America believe that seven sisters ignored their father’s (the Moon’s) instructions and descended to Earth in a basket to dance and sing when their father was "low in the sky." On one of their visits, one of the young women was captured by a human being and fell in love with him. The couple was taken to the Sky world in a basket lowered to Earth by the bride’s sisters. While Grandfather Sun disapproved of the marriage, out of his love for his daughter he permitted the couple to visit on Earth from time to time. As for the remaining sisters, Grandfather Sun sent them to live further from the Earth, and to this day, they can hardly be seen.

One storyteller from the Fort Alexander Reserve in Manitoba, Canada, has explained the seasonal appearance and disappearance of the Pleiades with the story of seven children who loved to dance and play.

According to the Anishinabe of Central North America, seven children loved to dance and play, rather than help their parents in camp. The children’s mother went to seek advice on this problem and was told to place stones on their food. It was hoped that the children would appreciate the value of hard work if they were forced to remove the stones from their food before they could eat it. Unfortunately, this plan did not work. One day, the children danced so hard, they danced up into the sky where they can be seen to this day. Although you can clearly see them in the winter, they cannot be seen in the summer. It is believed that during the summer months, when ceremonies and dances are being celebrated by humans, the children join them, returning to the heavens with the onset of winter.

To the Anishinabe, the Pleiades is also known as the "Hole in the Sky" and is closely connected with religious beliefs.
Canadian Heritage Information Network
Australian Museums & Galleries Online, Australia; Centre of the Universe; Gemini Observatory, Hawaii; Glenbow Museum; The Manitoba Museum; National Research Council Canada; Planétarium de Montréal

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003

Teachers' Centre Home Page | Find Learning Resources & Lesson Plans