Lakota Star Knowledge and Belief
Points of Interest

• The study of a culture’s beliefs about the sky is called ethnoastronomy.

• The Lakota believe that events on Earth are mirrored in the stars. The vortex symbol—one triangle perched on top of another—illustrates the Lakota mirroring belief. You can find images of the vortex throughout the Lakota culture.

• The shape of a Lakota tipi re-creates a spiritual vortex. Its 12 poles represent the most important Lakota stars as well as the months of the year.

• Images of the powerful, life-giving Sun often appear on treasured Lakota objects, such as war shields and bags that hold sacred pipes.

• Each spring Lakota people embark on a ceremonial journey to rekindle life on Earth. As the Sun travels through the Race Track constellation, the Lakota mirror its journey on Earth by traveling around the Black Hills of South Dakota while performing ceremonies at sacred sites.

• Held each summer, the Sun Dance is the most important and sacred of the Lakota rites. The dance welcomes summer and renews both the tribe and life on Earth.

• The Leonid meteor shower occurs each year as Earth passes through the orbital path of the comet Tempel-Tuttle. This year, the Leonid shower will peak on November 19. Astronomers are predicting a spectacular storm of 35,000 meteors an hour!

• The Lakota, like other cultures, refer to the Morning Star or Evening Star. This "star" is usually a planet, often Venus. Venus is the second brightest object in the sky after the Moon.