Dreaming Stars (Re)Interpreting Celestial Stories in Contemporary Indigenous Literatures and Arts

deadline for submissions: 
December 1, 2023
full name / name of organization: 
Marie-Eve Bradette and Caroline Nepton-Hotte

Guest Editors: Caroline Nepton Hotte and Marie-Eve Bradette

« Il y a longtemps, fort longtemps, le monde tel que nous le connaissons aujourd’hui n’était qu’un vaste océan. Il était peu habité, sauf par quelques animaux aquatiques. À cette époque, les ancêtres des Wendat vivaient plutôt au-dessus, dans un autre monde : le Monde-Ciel. »

Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui, La femme venue du ciel. Mythe wendat de la création


In Comparing Mythologies, Cree writer Tomson Highway employs the term “mythology” and defines it in relation to Cree stories, but also to Greek and Christian mythologies, which he compares and distinguishes from First People’s epistemologies. In Dancing on Our Turtle’s Back, Nihsnaabe scholar Leanne Betasamosake Simpson brings this idea further when she suggests that Indigenous epistemologies are opposed to and resisting colonial supremacy12. Both thinkers are thus proposing that Indigenous myths and cosmologies are creating and transmitting Indigenous knowledge systems. In this perspective, Highway writes that “mythology defines, mythology maps out, the collective subconscious, the collective dream world of races of people, the collective spirit of races of people, the collective spiritual nervous system, if you will, where every cord, every wire, every filament has a purpose and a function, every twitch a job in the way that collective human body, mind, and soul moves and operates from one day to the next and the next and the next13”. He insists on the ways in which myths function and are governing relationships with the land and the cosmological world. Nonetheless, what we wish to bring to light in relation to Highway’s conception of mythology here is, on the one hand, that stories map the collective consciousness, and on the other, that myths are turned towards the future (one day to the next and the next and the next). We are insisting on this aspect because the connection between space and time is key to current Indigenous literary and artistic studies.   

Over the last decade in the Francophone context, and for the last twenty years in the Anglophone milieu, in America, New Zealand and Australia, studies that address the spatio-temporal dimensions of Indigenous literary, visual and film works have proliferated14, even suggesting the establishment of a significant critical turn. From it then emerged a current that gives way to Indigenous Futurisms15, and that draws its source from the very core of cosmological narratives that link the terrestrial world to that of the stars, but most often focusing on the world below.

In this issue, we wish to consider another way of thinking, imagining and (re)creating Indigenous mythological stories: that of the celestial world or what Wendat writer Louis-Karl Picard-Sioui calls the “Sky-World”. This Sky-World of the Wendat creation story “ressemblait beaucoup à celui que nous connaissons aujourd’hui ici-bas16”, but it also had its singularities. For example, while this world was bathed in the yellow light of the flowers of a large apple tree, the world below had to create stars, the Sun and the Moon to guide the Woman from the sky’s journey on Turtle Island17. A perennial relationship between the world above and the world below was therefore necessary to ensure the Woman from the sky’s survival, and eventually the survival of all human and other-than-human beings (fauna, flora, spirits, etc.). 

Among the Cree and the Innu, in Northern Quebec, the young Tshakapesh, at the end of his life on Earth, is the one through whom day and night came to be. To reach the Sky, he climbed a tree, and with his breath, he made it grow, which gave him a vision of the whole country. He invited his sister to join him in the land of the Sky. As usual, he decided to set snares, and he caught the Sun without wanting to. A plan is then put together to release the Sun while the Moon continues her course18.

Within Ojibwe astronomy, “the correlation between sky and earth, or above and below, is an important underlying theme19”. In their book Ojibwe Sky Star Map Constellation Guide. An Introduction to Ojibwe Star Knowledge, Annette Lee, William Wilson, Jeffrey Tibbets, and Carl Gawboy explore this knowledge through an exploration of traditional constellation stories20. Through these stories, the authors seek to revitalize Elders’ knowledge of the stars and account for celestial knowledge as a mirror of life on Earth. The constellations and the stories associated with them thus become teachings that change as the seasons pass.  

By offering to think about stories that speak of the celestial world and the stars that populate it, we see a change of perspective, but also a transformation of creative practices. But how can we transform them and set our eyes on the immensity of the sky? How, finally, can we dream of the stars? By doing so, it is perhaps the ways of reporting, symbolizing, and expressing the relationship to space, but also to time, to the intersection of past, present and future, that will be changed, because “when looking far away in astronomy, we are actually looking back in time because of the time it takes for light to travel across vast distances21”.

In this issue of MuseMedusa, we are wondering whether the fictional and artistic possibilities opened by an engagement with the world of the stars might not allow us to think differently about our relationship to the world, to space and time, and, in doing so, about our relationships with human and other-than-human beings. We therefore invite the submission of critical texts and creative works (literary or visual) that ask, but are not limited to, the following questions or that address the following perspectives:


  • The transposing and reinterpreting of celestial myths in contemporary Indigenous literary or artistic works.
  • The future tense transposition of celestial narratives. 
  • Temporality and its links with the terrestrial world, the underground world and the Sky world.
  • Grandmother Moon and the revitalization of Indigenous feminine knowledge.
  • The possibilities of science-fiction to reimagine astral knowledge.
  • The intersection of Haudenosaunee creation myth, science fiction, and the digital (in Skawennati works for example).
  • The connections between astronomical, literary and Indigenous mythological knowledge.
  • Is the sky a decolonized space? Alternatively, how can the sky be decolonized through Indigenous stories, arts and literatures?


This call is part of the current decolonial movement in Canada and beyond. In the spirit of transforming and turning the power relations between Indigenous peoples and literary and academic institutions, we encourage those who submit a proposal to consider ethics and respectful engagement with Indigenous peoples’ knowledge23.

Those interested in submitting a critical or theoretical paper, a visual work or a creative text for this issue are asked to send it along to musemedusa@umontreal.ca, by December 1st, 2023,cc’ing Caroline Nepton Hotte (hotte.caroline@uqam.ca) and Marie-Eve Bradette (marie-eve.bradette@lit.ulaval.ca). Each contribution must be accompanied by a brief bio-bibliographic note, two abstracts (except for creative works) and two lists of 10 keywords, one in French and one in English (see Guidelines on the website). For any additional information, you can contact the two guest editors for this issue.