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Indigenous Peoples Day 2021

Sunrise at Fajada Butte, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico. Credit: Alice Monet.

This year, the Arlington Public Schools are recognizing Indigenous Peoples Day on the second Monday in October (11 October 2021) instead of Columbus Day. Students have no classes, but faculty have required professional learning scheduled. The rebranded holiday celebrates the cultures, traditions, and histories of native peoples world-wide, including those who settled North America tens of thousands of years ago. The Friends are pleased to see APS making this change to include the stories of all Americans.

Early indigenous people were aware of the sky and its seasonal changes along with solar and lunar cycles. They designed numerous sites to align with celestial events. Archaeoastronomy combines archeology and astronomy to try to understand the accomplishments of the cultures that built these monuments. In August 2020, Science educator Deb Fuller spoke to us about “American Archaeoastronomy Sites.” This month, Alice Monet spoke to us about “Astronomy in Chaco Canyon.” Both talks were recorded and are available online. If you missed either program the first time, now might be a good time to learn more about ancient sky watchers.