Placing the Stars, detail, 1994, Eleanor Rock, ET513.37
Photo: Kirstin Roper, © NHMU

Placing the Stars Story

Áłtsé Hastiin (First Man), Áłtsé Asdzą́ą́ (First Woman), Ma’ii (Coyote) and the Holy People saw that the night sky was too dark. They gathered as many fragments of mica as they could find and placed them in a bag. Drawing mica from the bag, First Man placed Náhookǫs Biką’ii (the Big Dipper). First Woman placed Náhookǫs Ba’áádii (the Little Dipper). First man placed the Dilyéhé (the Pleiades) and like this, they carefully placed stars into the sky. When Coyote came to watch he grew impatient. He cried out: "Never mind doing it that way! Why must I wait this long for your work to be done?” Coyote then placed three red stars for himself, including Maʼiibizǫ’ (Canopus) and Sǫʼ Doo Ńdízídí (the morning star).  Then he took the bag of mica and threw it into sky scattering mica helter-skelter, forming the Milky Way. In this way, Coyote created both chaos and order.