Corona Borealis and Indigenous Skylore
The stars in this constellation form a wreath or crown. Alphecca is the brightest star in Corona Borealis and is visible all night long in May. It is an eclipsing binary star 75 light years from earth. Beta Coronae Borealis or Nusakan is the second brightest star and is 112 light years away. NGC 6085 is a spiral galaxy that forms a flat rotating disk of stars, nebulae and gaseous material. The Corona Borealis constellation is home to a distant super cluster of galaxies. Super clusters contain 100's of galaxies bound together by gravity and are the largest concentrations of mass in the universe.
Atchakosuk are the spirit lights up above. “All people of the Earth have stories of the stars. The First People of North America are no different” — Wilfred Buck, Cree Science Educator.
In Cree tradition, the Pleiades asterism represents the sweat lodge fire and rocks, while Corona Borealis is the sweat lodge itself. The north star or Polaris is the altar. Sometimes, all three can be seen in the sky at once. This reminds us how to find comfort, hope and healing.
A young man named Tikoom had seven uncles. They lived during a time of sickness and scarcity. The uncles set out to hunt so they could bring in fresh meat. After four days, they had not yet returned so Tikoom went to search for them. He followed their tracks until he reached their camp. Instead, he found seven rocks.
Tikoom slept in their empty shelter and dreamed of Mistapew the giant. In the dream, Mistapew could steal the spirits of humans. He crept into the dreams of the uncles and stole their spirits. Their spirits were transferred over to rocks. The uncles could not return to human form, but their spirits could visit Tikoom if he performed a ceremony. Tikoom built a lodge of willow branches and covered it in deerskin. He created a fire outside of the lodge and placed the rocks in the centre of the fire. Once the rocks heated up, Tikoom brought the rocks inside the lodge. He sang a prayer and threw water on the hot rocks to release their spirits. This was a healing ceremony. Tikoom became Assini Awasis Stone Child so he could be remembered as the boy who brought the sweat lodge to the people.