Stellar Connections: Explorations in Cultural Astronomy - Pt. 3, John MacDonald
In Indigenous worldviews -- where humanity, nature, and the spiritual realm are closely connected -- the night sky provides spiritual and navigational guidance, timekeeping, weather prediction, and stories and legends that tell us how to live a proper life. Cultural astronomy, also referred to as archaeoastronomy or ethnoastronomy, explores the distinctive ways that astronomy is culturally embedded in the practices and traditions of various peoples. In Part 3, John MacDonald presents "The Arctic Sky -- Inuit astronomy, Star Lore, and Legend" Now retired, John MacDonald spent most of his working life in the Canadian Arctic. He was for twenty-five years coordinator of the Igloolik Research Centre located in the Inuit community of Igloolik in Nunavut's North Baffin Island region. Throughout his time in Igloolik he collaborated closely with local Inuit elders to record and document the oral history and traditional knowledge of the region. Part of this work included a major study of Inuit astronomy and cosmology, leading to the publication of his book "The Arctic Sky - Inuit Astronomy, Star Lore and Legend" (1998, 2000). Long interested in contact history between Europeans and inuit, MacDonald is currently editing and annotating an unpublished journal documenting early encounters between Inuit of the Igloolik area and members of an 1820's British naval expedition seeking an Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The symposium was webcast on October 20, 2012 from the Rasmuson Theater in the National Museum of the American Indian on the National Mall in Washington, DC.