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BOOKS

First Astronomers

How Indigenous Elders read the stars

Duane Hamacher

RRP: £18.99

5 January 2023

Published by Allen & Unwin

ISBN: 9781760877200

Our eyes have been drawn away from the skies to our screens. We no longer look to the stars to forecast the weather, predict the seasons or plant our gardens. Most of us cannot even see the Milky Way. But First Nations Elders around the world still maintain this knowledge, and there is much we can learn from them.

These Elders are expert observers of the stars. They teach that everything on the land is reflected in the sky, and everything in the sky is reflected on the land. How does this work, and how can we better understand our place in the universe?

Guided by six First Nations Elders, Duane Hamacher takes us on a journey across space and time to reveal the wisdom of the first astronomers. These living systems of knowledge challenge conventional ideas about the nature of science and the longevity of oral tradition. Indigenous science is dynamic, adapting to changes in the skies and on Earth, pointing the way for a world facing the profound disruptions of climate change.

‘This book marks a profound paradigm shift in our understanding of Indigenous scientific traditions, how they are transmitted, and their relevance to life today.’ – Professor Marcia Langton, University of Melbourne

‘A ground-breaking book of enormous scope.’ – Brian Schmidt, Nobel Laureate in Physics

‘A glimpse into Indigenous ways of reading landscapes reflected in the night sky through ancient processes of inquiry.’ – Dr Tyson Yunkaporta, author of Sand Talk

‘A wonderful combination of scholarship and poetry.’ – Dr Annette S. Lee, Lakota astrophysicist

‘Beautiful, engaging, and startlingly profound.’ – Alan Duffy, Professor of Astrophysics