Luiseño Star Lore


The Luiseño people had an evolved star knowledge as, I am sure other First Peoples in Southern California did.  Part of their belief was that the dead turned into stars-so star knowledge was particularly important.  One story about Coyote finds representation in the stars.  One version tells of how Coyote lusted after one of seven sisters.  They decided to go away to avoid him and went up into the sky to become the Pleides.  Coyote followed and became a nearby star, Aldebaran.  Many peoples around the world have stories about the seven sisters—In fact there are only six stars in that constellation which causes people to speculate that there was another star there that is no longer visible.


Luiseño                                        Translation                        Constellation


Piwish or ahta                                       Spirit of Dead                     Milky Way                  


Moil                                                                                                                               Moon


Eluchah                                                 Leavings (as of food                       Venus

over night)


Tukmi iswas ut-um pom-shun     Night Wolves-their hearts         North Star


Hula`ch-um                                                                                     Orion’s Belt


chehay-am                                             Seven Sisters                          Pleides


Anó                                                        Coyote                                   Aldebaran


Nukulish                                                                                                                       Antares


Nukulish po-ma                                     His (Antares?) hand                     Arcturus


Yungavish                                              Buzzard                                           Altair


Yungavish po-ma                                                                                                      Vega


Yungavish po-cheya            His (Buzzard’s?) headdress     A star near Altair


Waunish                                                                                                                      Spica


Ngoiwut chaw achmush                                                                           Fomalhaut

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