This painting by George Catlin shows a young Native American boy. His ancestors were the first skywatchers of North America.
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Image courtesy Corel Photography

The Skywatchers of the Americas

Early man would not have been distracted by t.v., video games, city lights or any of the things that keep us from spending our nights looking up at the black, starry sky. Long before farming, man would have watched the cycle of the Sun because that cycle told them when plants would be ready for picking and when animals would be around to be hunted. And so we see that even the earliest man would have watched the day and night sky.

Humans first lived in present-day Africa and the Middle East. These early hunter-gatherers roamed through Europe and Asia. It is thought that from Asia, people crossed the Bering Strait into North America while the straight was frozen over. There is so much evidence to support this theory that many people accept it as the way that the Americas came to be populated by humans. By 30,000 B.C., people were present in the Yukon. These hunter-gatherers just kept roaming the land perhaps following animals or water sources so that by 12,000 years ago, people were as far south as Argentina!

It is these people who were the Natives of the Americas. They too watched the sky. It is interesting to look at evidence of that skywatching by looking at the ancient astronomy practiced by the Native Americans of North America, the Maya of Central America and the Inca of South America.

Last modified August 2, 2001 by Jennifer Bergman.

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