The Native American Sky

March 2019

Briefing date: March 14, 2019 (3:30pm EST)


Dr. Chris Britt (STScI)


  • Prof. Annette Lee (St. Cloud State University)

  • Mr. Kālepa Baybayan (Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawaiʻi)

  • Dr. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton (Canada France Hawaii Telescope)

 Slide presentation:

  • PDF format* 7 MB

  • PPT format* 18.8 MB

  • *Image Copyright Notice: Artwork by A. Lee – slides #3-#14 – is copyrighted. For “Not for Profit” use, you may use the artwork with appropriate credit. For other (“For Profit”) use, you must apply for a limited use license to avoid copyright infringement.

Transcript and audio recording:

Additional resources:


Please join us for this special edition of the Universe of Learning Science Briefings! We will hear speakers from different Native American backgrounds give their unique perspectives and insights on the night sky, our place in the Universe, and how to approach the natural world around us.

In this briefing, speakers will share content about their perspective on astronomy.  Prof. Lee will present indigenous teachings relating to constellations from the North American tribes: Ojibwe, D/Lakota, and Ininew and summarize some of the resources created and the programming delivered by the Native Skywatchers research and programming initiative. Mr. Baybayan will present on the history of traditional pacific deep-sea voyaging and oceanic wayfinding, the indigenous system of orientation and navigation at sea. Dr. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton will share her own journey to rediscover a time when everyone was an Astronomer. In addition to these perspectives, we will highlight several resources relating to this content.


Prof. Annette Lee is an astrophysicist, artist and the Director of the Native Skywatchers research and programming initiative. She has over three decades of experience in education as a teacher, university instructor, teacher educator, program administrator, professional visual artist, and researcher.

Mr Kālepa Baybayan was born and raised in Lahaina, Maui, and has been an active participant in the Polynesian voyaging renaissance since 1975. Kālepa has served as captain and navigator onboard the iconic Hawaiian double-hulled voyaging canoe Hōkūleʻa, as well as the canoes Hawai‘iloa and Hōkūalaka‘i. In 2007 he was one of five Hawaiian men initiated into the order of Pwo, a three thousand year old society of deep-sea navigators, by their teacher, Master Navigator Mau Piailug on the island of Satawal. Kālepa has served as 'Imiloa's first Navigator-in Residence since his appointment in 2009. Kālepa most recently participated in the 3-year Mālama Honua Worldwide Voyage, which traveled 42,000 nautical miles, and visited 150 ports in over 20 countries, while training a new generation of navigators, educators, scientists, and community stewards. He resides in Kona, on Hawai’i Island, with his wife Audrey.

Dr. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton is a resident astronomer at the Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory and postdoctoral researcher at the University of Hawaii. As the first indigenous woman in Quebec to obtain a PhD in astrophysics, she received her diploma from Université Laval by studying regions of stellar formation in spiral galaxies using an imaging spectrograph. She consequently demonstrated the efficiency of SpIOMM and SITELLE imaging spectrograph for the detailed study of emission lines in spiral galaxies. Her expertise now allows her to train other researchers to use those tools. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton was a FRQNT postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hawaii and previously received the Hubert Reeves Fellowship and the Award for native women in sciences of the Association des femmes diplômées des universités du Québec. She is still involved with academia as an affiliate faculty member at the University of Hawaii in Hilo.

FACILITATOR: Dr. Christopher Britt received his BS and PhD in astrophysics from Louisiana State University. He was a postdoctoral researcher at Texas Tech University and at Michigan State University before joining the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore as an Education and Outreach Scientist, where he works with the Hubble and James Webb Space Telescopes to bring cutting edge astronomical research to public audiences.