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Astronomie et cultures autochtones


CHIN, Ottawa, Ontario

The Southern Cross

The Southern Cross is a constellation specific to the southern hemisphere consisting of four bright stars placed as if at the points of a cross.

A tree flies into the sky to become the Southern Cross.

There are many legends in Aboriginal cultures of Australia about things that are not permitted, such as eating certain foods or marrying people who might be too closely related. In these stories the characters who do not obey the rules are punished. Sometimes the good characters are turned into stars to remind the people of what they should do. In one such story the Great Spirit Baiame created two men and a woman and taught them what plants to eat and how to dig for roots. Baiame also told them not to kill animals. But when a drought came and the plants died, the woman tried to persuade the men to go and hunt an animal for food. One man agreed and went off to kill an kangaroo but the other man refused to eat any of Baiame’s creatures. He went off into the desert and fell exhausted beneath a white gum tree. While he slept, the Yowi, spirit of death, reached down and dragged him up into the tree, disturbing two white cockatoos that were nesting there. Then the whole tree flew up into the sky to form the Southern Cross. The four stars of the Cross are said to be the eyes of the man and the Yowi, while the Pointers are the two cockatoos trying to fly back to their home in the gum tree.
Canadian Heritage Information Network

© Canadian Heritage Information Network, 2003
Learning Object Collection: Sky Stories: Indigenous Astronomy
Learning Object: Indigenous Astronomy: The Australians
Institution: RCIP-CHIN