45. Native American Pleiades story

45. Native American Pleiades story

Among Native American tribes, various tales and legends surrounding the Pleiades constellation reflect their deep-rooted respect for nature and their holistic worldview. Exploring these narratives through the lens of ecofeminism provides profound insights into Native American cosmologies and the age-old wisdom they harbour.

Among the Lakota Sioux, the story of the Pleiades is tied to seven maidens pursued by a bear. In their quest for safety, they prayed to the spirits and found themselves elevated onto a high plateau. The bear, attempting to reach them, left deep claw marks on the sides of the plateau, which eventually became the Black Hills of South Dakota. The maidens were subsequently transformed into stars, finding their place in the cosmos as the Pleiades.

The Kiowa have a slightly different narrative, recounting seven girls chased by giant bears and, upon praying for salvation, being lifted into the sky to become the star cluster.

Central to ecofeminism is the understanding that the exploitation of the earth and the subjugation of women spring from the same patriarchal structures. The tales of the Seven Sisters, especially when viewed through this lens, resonate with ecofeminist themes.

The act of pursuit, whether by bears or other entities, symbolises the relentless forces— often patriarchal in nature— that seek to dominate both women and the environment. The maidens' transformation, their ascension, is a potent metaphor for resistance, resilience, and eventual transcendence above these forces. Their transformation into stars, entities that guide and nourish with their light, mirrors the nurturing and guiding force of women and nature.

Furthermore, the interconnectedness of humans, animals (like the bear), and celestial bodies in these tales underscores the holistic worldview of Native American tribes— an understanding that all life forms are interconnected and dependent on one another. This perspective aligns seamlessly with ecofeminist values that advocate for recognising and respecting these intricate webs of interdependence.

The Native American stories surrounding the Pleiades or Seven Sisters offer more than just tales of pursuit and transformation. They encapsulate a deep reverence for the natural world, a recognition of the feminine force, and the understanding of interconnectedness. Through an ecofeminist perspective, these narratives emerge as ancient testaments to the values of harmony, balance, and respect— values that modern societies might do well to relearn in an age marked by environmental crises and continued gender disparities.
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