Public Star Night – 15 November 2019 – Jim Tolstrup – Lakota Star Knowledge

Our guest speaker is Jim Tolstrup, and the title of his talk will be “Lakota Star Knowledge”.

Members of the Lakota tribe observed the stars while remaining in one geographical area over a period of thousands of years. In the “Winter Circle” they saw a representation of their seasonal migration through the Black Hills in Western South Dakota. The stars also represented the spiritual life of the people. The shape of the earth was thought to resemble the constellations above.  Much of this mirroring takes place inside the red clay valley which encircles the Black Hills of South Dakota.  The Lakota stellar theology can be summarized by the quote: “What is on the earth is in the stars, and what is in the stars is on the earth.” Thus to the Lakota, the stars represented places on Earth, the appropriate timing for migration, hunting, gathering and ceremonies, as well as ethical and moral lessons.  

Jim Tolstrup is the co-founder and past-president of Cankatola Ti Ospaye, a non-profit that supports native elders. At the urging of Lakota Elders, Jim reaches out to his own people to promote justice for Native Americans and harmony with the natural world. As the Executive Director of the High Plains Environmental Center in Loveland, Colorado, Jim works with developers to “restore nature where we live, work and play.”

Weather permitting after the presentation, visitors will be invited to look through our large telescope at various celestial objects. Public star nights are held the third Friday of each month, except July, when we are closed for annual maintenance.

If you have any questions, please call the observatory information line at 970-613-7793 or check the LTO web site at

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