Jun 10, 2021 12:30 PM

Chadron exhibit features Lakota constellation stories

Posted Jun 10, 2021 12:30 PM

By TENA L. COOK, CSC Marketing Coordinator

CHADRON – The current exhibit at the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center, Kapemni: As It Is Above, It Is Below, showcases Lakota constellations, culture, history, Native American zodiac signs, and related lore. The show will be open until Oct. 15. Hours of the Center are Monday-Thursday 10 a.m. to noon, 1-4 p.m. and Friday 10 am to noon, closed weekends and holidays.

The Kapemni symbol of two tipis connected top to top reflects the Lakota belief that Earth appears as the mirror image of the sky, according to Holly Counts with the Sandoz Center.

Dallas Magnusson, accounting clerk II, views Lakota cultural items on display in the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center as part of Kapemni: As It Is Above, So It Is Below through Oct. 2021. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College)
Dallas Magnusson, accounting clerk II, views Lakota cultural items on display in the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center as part of Kapemni: As It Is Above, So It Is Below through Oct. 2021. (Tena L. Cook/Chadron State College)

Counts, Assistant Professor of Physical Sciences Dr. Tawny Tibbits, and CSC graduate student Kinsley Mason collaborated to create 14 paintings of constellations including Bear’s Lodge, Seven Sisters/Girls, Buffalo, Elk, Salamander, and Turtle. Sources for the paintings’ captions were taken from Lakota Star Knowledge by Ronald Goodman and D(Lakota) Star Map Constellation Guide by Annette S. Lee, Jim Rock, and Charlene O’Rourke.

“The exhibit walks visitors through some of the major constellations. We focus on Lakota and Dakota lore,” Tibbits said. “The Seven Sisters in Lakota, Dakota lore are seven individuals who were plucked up from the surface of the earth and thrown into the sky.”

Tibbits said the themes reflected in Lakota constellations have many similarities with traditional Greek stories including love, loss, war, and jealousy.

“Looking up is a common fascination among all the cultures of the world,” Tibbits said.

Pieces from the Sandoz Center collection, and moccasins, jewelry, and a piece of polished amethyst from the private collection of Roxy Puchner are part of the exhibit. Tibbits said many of the rocks and minerals on display are from the Eleanor Barbour Cook Museum’s Ohme Collection.

A Native American zodiac chart is included in the exhibit along with take-home cards for guests listing corresponding animal totems for each sign.

Another feature of the Kapemni show is a preview of the Lois Veath Planetarium that will be in the renovated and expanded Math Science Center of Innovative Learning.

“We are very excited to be in the planning stages of what's going into our new planetarium. We have the floor plan layout so people can see it,” Tibbits said.

For more details, contact the Sandoz Center at 308-432-6401.