Sharing the Wisdom of the Kaibab Paiute Dark-Sky Nation

FUNDED: $20,700

On Earth Day in 2015, the Kaibab Paiute Tribe was recognized as the first “Dark-Sky Nation” by the International Dark-Sky Association. This historic announcement acknowledged the collective efforts of the Kaibab Tribe to protect the dark skies over their nation as one of its most valuable resources. As Daniel Bulletts, the Kaibab Paiute Environmental Department Director explains, “The Kaibab Paiute Tribe and its people have depended on the night sky for guidance, cultural awareness and preparedness for life’s great journey upon mother earth.”

Through a long-standing partnership with Pipe Spring National Monument, the Paiute Tribe has shared its proud tradition of stargazing, singing, and storytelling with visitors worldwide. Tribal Elders teach instructive moral tales about the sun, moon, stars and earth during star party events hosted at Pipe Spring. These events give visitors new experiences not available in any other place.

Working in connection with Paiute Tribal leadership, this top-priority project will capture traditional Southern Paiute star stories and legends through oral history recordings. Many of these stories are sung or told exclusively by Tribal Elders and may vanish within a generation if they are not recorded. Never-before published Southern Paiute constellation maps and planispheres will be created to share the Kaibab perspective on the shapes and stories in the stars. Funding will go to purchase a portable telescope that will enhance storytelling programs, and importantly, to support an internship position for an interested Paiute Tribal student.

After experiencing a Dark-Sky Nation, visitors at Pipe Spring walk away empowered with steps they can take to protect their Dark-Sky heritage. Together, this partnership protects and shares the Kaibab Paiute Tribal tradition explained by an Elder: “We need to smile when we look up to the sky at night, not squint and frown and look down.”