North America - Part 2 : The Pawnee
The Pawnee people, especially the Skidi Band, were sophisticated skywatchers. Cosmology was intertwined with their daily lives, and hierarchy within the tribe, as well as the village layout was based on the ranking of star gods. First in the ranking came the Red Morning Star Warriors (Mars), followed by the 4 gods who supported the heavens located at directions northwest, northeast, southwest and southeast. Third came the Sun, Moon and the gods of the 4 cardinal directions. The supreme god was Tirawa, the Sun. The north star represented the god Tirawahat, the 'Star That Does Not Walk Around' and chief over the other stars. They drew star charts, and star appearances seemed to serve as calendars for them.
According to Pawnee oral tradition, they used to organize their 18 villages to be aligned to stellar patterns and associated with 18 different stars. Morning Star was the being from which humanity and all its rules for living originated. Von Del Chamberlain, an astronomer who studied Pawnee mythology and stellar legends, deduced that the Morning Star was Mars, and that the Navajo paid great attention to observing the westward migration of the planet. Mars was associated with the colour red, and the synodic period of the planet would have been observed by the Pawnee as taking 2.14 years to travel from the east to the west of the sky. The Pawnee had 4 sacred bundles of sticks which represented the 4 semicardinal directions, and 4 different villages posessed the bundles for a span of 2 years, after which they were passed to 4 other villages. This led Chamberlain to theorize that the synodic period of Mars was the reason why the bundles were passed every 2 years and not annually.
The traditional Pawnee earth lodge was built with 4 roof-supporting poles which symbolized the 4 stars that held up the sky. Each star was also associated with the following: