ST. GEORGE – Southern Utahns are invited to a special dark skies presentation at Mather Point Amphitheater in Grand Canyon National Park Friday featuring Kaibab Paiute Charley Bulletts.
The Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation is located north of Grand Canyon National Park and was recognized by the International Dark-Sky Association as the world’s first “Dark Sky Nation” in 2015. The International Dark-Sky Association is a nonprofit organization based in Tucson, Arizona, which combats light pollution worldwide and is dedicated to protecting the night sky for present and future generations.
According to a media statement from the International Dark-Sky Association, the night sky is a significant part of the Kaibab Paiute Tribe culture. After becoming aware of the threatened status of the dark night sky, the Paiutes retrofitted community lights to decrease light emissions.
The statement from the International Dark-Sky Association statement went on to say that the Dark Sky Nation designation is important because it is the first time an entire group of ethnically and linguistically related people came together to embrace dark-skies principles.
Bulletts, the cultural resource director for the Kaibab Paiutes, was a key figure in the Paiute’s dark sky designation and hopes to spread awareness and inspire others to protect the dark skies by sharing traditional night sky stories in one of the area’s most significant dark sky locations, a media statement from the Grand Canyon National Park said.
Bulletts will be speaking about the process of obtaining the Dark Sky Nation recognition and sharing some of the tribe’s night sky legends.
“Not a lot of our own kids know this, that we have legends. Just like the Greeks have their gods, we have our ancestral leaders up there (in the stars),” Bulletts said. “When we tell stories, the stars help us in doing that process.”
Bullets will be recounting oral Paiute legends about the origins of Orion’s Belt and other constellations.
“They’re stories that haven’t been told for a while because of the lack of seeing the stars clearly,” Bulletts said.
Bullets added that with the Dark Sky recognition, the Paiutes will be able to show the constellations and have different events throughout the year, including stargazing and night sky storytelling events.
The Kaibab Paiutes are members of the Southern Paiute Nation, which includes Paiute bands in southern Nevada, Southern Utah and northern Arizona.
The Kaibab Paiute Indian Reservation is located on the Arizona Strip approximately 50 miles north of the Grand Canyon and encompasses 120,840 acres. The reservation straddles Coconino and Mohave counties in Arizona.
The reservation has five tribal villages, and its boundaries include the non-Indian community of Moccasin, Arizona, and Pipe Spring National Monument.
Dark skies in Southern Utah
Several areas in Southern Utah are noted for their dark skies and outstanding stargazing opportunities. Canyonlands and Capital Reef national parks and Natural Bridges and Hovenweep national monuments are all recognized as International Dark Sky Parks by the International Dark-Sky Association.
Bryce Canyon National Park is designated as a “Night Sky Sanctuary” and has an astronomy ranger on staff. The park features about 100 astronomy programs each year, including an annual Astronomy Festival. This year’s festival is scheduled for June 1-4.
Cedar Breaks National Monument has a “Dark Ranger” on staff and hosts star parties throughout the year.
- What: Charley Bulletts dark skies presentation
- When: Friday, Feb. 26 at 7:30 p.m.
- Where: Mather Point Amphitheater is located on the rim near Grand Canyon Visitor Center. Transportation from the rim lodges is available via the free Village Shuttle Bus Blue route; parking is also available at Grand Canyon Visitor Center.
- The event is free and open to the public. The presentation will take place outside, so please check the weather forecast and dress appropriately. For more information about the dark skies presentation, please contact Vanessa Ceja-Cervantes via email.
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