Constellation chart and illustration by Alexander Jamieson.

Gemini and Indigenous Skylore

Gemini star chart.

In April, the Gemini constellation is in the western sky. Pollux is a giant star which appears with an orange hue. It is 35 light years away. Castor is brighter and larger than the sun and is 50 light years away. Eskimo Nebula is the remnant of a dying star. The formation looks like a head surrounded by the hood of a parka. It lies more than 2870 light-years away. The Medusa nebula is a planetary nebula. The braided serpentine filaments of glowing gas suggests the serpent hair of Medusa found in ancient Greek mythology. It is 1500 light years away. A star in Gemini is called Mekbuda.

Ashes Chief and Struck-behind

A story told in Blackfoot tradition connects the land and sky through a man named Smart-Crow was married and had two sons. A powerful stranger entered his lodge while Smart-Crow was away and killed his wife. The stranger then saw the two infant sons and named them Ashes Chief and Struck-behind. Smart-Crow returned from hunting and became very sad and angry when he found his wife. The stranger convinced Smart-Crow that his wife would live again if Smart-Crow gave his sons to a rock and a beaver. The boys grew up wild until Smart-Crow brought them home again. One day, the boys wandered to where their mother lay. They took meat from all parts of the buffalo to help their mother live. She rose and took a breath. The boys had powers when they grew into men. At the end of their lives, Ashes Chief took his white robe and an eagle feather and rose to the sky. Struck-Behind was carried to the sky on the branches of a tree. The two became the twin stars.