Native American Legends about the Star People and their Flying Shields

The UFO phenomenon goes way back in the American continent. There has been a pervasive belief amongst the different indigenous people that their ancestors were “star people” who came here from other stellar systems. The Hopi say that their ancestors came from the Pleiades star cluster. The Dakota believe that the Pleiades is Tiyami, “the abode of the ancestors”, and when we die, we go to live in the Pleiades. Cherokee legends teach that Native Americans originated long ago in the Pleiades, and assert that indigenous people are on Earth as “star seeds,” with a mission of bringing light and knowledge. The Cree, who live primarily in Canada, believe that their ancestors arrived on Earth from the stars as spirits, and then became human beings.

Such beliefs are quite commonplace amongst the Native American tribes, and well documented by archaeologists and anthropologists, although most of them do not attach much importance to these tales. Prof. David Kelly of the University of Calgary – a doctorate from Harvard University and an acclaimed Mayanist scholar – was an exception, in the sense that, he treated such indigenous beliefs with the seriousness they deserved. In the book Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy, Prof. Kelley mentioned how the interactions between the Sky People and humans served as a basis for the organization of the society across indigenous populations:

“The concept of intelligent life on other worlds has been widespread in many cultures around the world. The Dogon account of being taught useful skills by fish-men from Sirius is more specific than are most such accounts but is otherwise typical. Heroes pass back and forth between this world and the star worlds with ease.

In South American belief, Star Woman came from the sky, taught people agriculture, and returned to the sky. Many groups in both North and South America are divided into moieties of Sky People and Earth People, and in many cases, it is believed that the ancestors of Sky People came from the stars…Some Yumans of Arizona and California say that their ancestors came from the Pleiades. In Polynesia, specific ancestors of existing families are alleged to have gone back and forth between the land of the Sky People, Earth, and the Underworld.

When these lands are described, they are usually very much like Earth. Occasionally, their inhabitants have special characteristics, such as the Dogon fish-men, but more frequently celestial dwellers are virtually indistinguishable from humans except for their superior knowledge. ”[1]

The deeply ingrained belief within the indigenous communities that the star people or sky people taught them important skills and were the ancestors of certain groups, has made them more receptive to ideas of UFOs and alien visitations. As per Hopi tradition, during the Third World the people had invented magical “flying shields” called patuwvota, on which they could carry out aerial attacks on their enemies. When the Third World was destroyed by a massive flood, the flying patuwvotas along with other wordly treasures sank to the bottom of the seas.[2] According to independent researcher and author Gary David, who has written extensively about the Southwestern archaeological sites, “many flying shields are piloted by entities commonly called kachinas.”[3]

The kachinas are spirit beings who answer to the prayers of the Hopi and bestow blessings in the form of health, rain and good harvest. The Hopi assert that kachinas came up with them during their Emergence from the womb of Mother Earth at the beginning of the Fourth World.[4] This suggests that the kachinas – at least many of them – are “underworld spirits” associated with fertility and rainfall, that we find in the beliefs of many indigenous cultures. These are the same spirits that help the shaman with specific advice and counsel when he journeys to the underworld in an altered state of consciousness to find remedies for the ills affecting the community.

The Hopi say that the kachinas gave help and guidance to the clans during their migrations, and were referred to as the Kachina Clan.[5] Afterwards, they went away to live on top of the San Francisco peaks to the west of Hopi-land. Although many kachinas are underworld spirits, they originally came to the Earth from the stars. Frank Waters wrote that, “they (kachina) come from much farther away, a long long way – from neighbouring stars, constellations, too distant to be visible, from mysterious spirit worlds.”[6] This means that the kachinas are “star people”, many of whom transformed into “underworld spirits” when they came to the Earth and settled here, while others, quite possibly, continue to exist in other parts of the Solar System and beyond.

Gary David has written that, as per Hopi traditions, a kachina called Pavayoykyasi refers to his aircraft as “his pet, a magic flying shield. The shield has two parts, with the lower one spinning and the upper one remaining still. Climbing aboard, Pavayoykyasi rose up into the air and flew off.”[7] Isn’t it odd that the kachina refers to his flying shield as a “pet”? Almost as if it’s a sentient being that responds to its commands!

Gary David has identified yet another kind of aerial device within Hopi lore called a tawiya, or “gourd”, which consists of two halves. After climbing aboard, the rider closes the upper half and installs a tightly stretched sinew between the bottom of the gourd and the stem button. The rider then twists the sinew between his palms and the flying machine lifts off, making a humming noise.[8] “Hopis say that the gourd is a magic vehicle used by those who have power to use it for travel something like a spacecraft or flying saucer.”[9]

If the kachinas pilot the flying shields, then it gives an interesting twist to the UFO phenomenon. It would imply that, at least some of the UFO sightings from around the world reflect the technological skills of a subterranean civilization. This could explain why many UFOs seem to dive into oceans or water bodies and disappear, while many have been observed shooting out of water bodies. Perhaps some entrances to the underworld domain of the kachinas are concealed within the submerged continental shelves of the world?

The manner in which the kachinas are depicted in Hopi art resembles the way in which aliens have been visualized and depicted in popular art. The Hopis give kachina dolls to the children to make them aware of the different types of kachinas. Many kachina dolls have horns or antennas jutting out their head, while their faces are characterized by large goggle-eyes and the absence of a nose. Needless to say, most of them look downright spooky, and could give you the creeps if one of them suddenly sneaked up on you at night. In the petroglyphs and pictographs of many Southwestern sites, eerie-looking kachina figures can be discerned, going by the horns or antennas on the head, the large rounded eyes and the absence of a nose, or even a mouth in some cases. Some of the kachinas depicted on the rock art are enclosed by serpent-like figures indicative of the underworld, healing and rainfall.

One of the thoughts that struck me as I looked at the Sego canyon pictographs is, how closely these round-eyed, ghost-like figures, devoid of a nose or mouth, resemble the Wandjina art of the aboriginal Australians, who live in the Kimberley region of north-west Australia. The Wandjinas, like the kachinas, are regarded as powerful spirit beings who came down from the Milky Way and brought the law, culture, and language of the aboriginal people.[10] After teaching the aboriginals, the Wandjinas retreated to the bottom of the water source associated with the rock paintings. Like the kachinas, the Wandjinas are regarded as powerful “rain maker” spirits. They control the clouds and rainfall, and punish those who break the laws with floods, lightning and cyclones. Sometimes, the Wandjinas are depicted in the company of the “Rainbow Serpent” – as powerful rain making and creative spirit – just as the kachinas depicted on the Sego canyon pictographs are shown in the company of serpents.

Even the terms “kachina” and “Wandjina” are phonetically quite close. It makes you wonder if the kachina art was influenced by the Wandjina art or vice versa? Perhaps, both of them have a common origin elsewhere? Since the Hopi claim that they sailed eastwards on boats after the end of the Third World, to reach the western coast of America, such a possibility cannot be ruled out.

Wandjina Rock Art on the Barnett River in the Kimberley region of Western Australia. Credit: Graeme Churchward CC BY 2.0.
The Wandjinas with the Rainbow Serpent. Source:

The connections between the kachinas and the Wandjinas are striking to say the least. They are spirit beings who came from the stars, imparted all manners of wisdom to the people, and then transformed into underworld spirits associated with rain and harvest. And let’s not forget they look surprisingly alike, and hang around with rain-making serpents. A lot of crucial wisdom about the true nature of our reality – couched in the language of symbols, myths and metaphors – appear to have been preserved by the indigenous people, that could be of great help to us for unraveling the mysterious events that haunt us from time to time.

The kachinas not only look like alien beings and pilot flying shields, they have also been accused of abducting children! David S. Lewis wrote an article in the The Montana Pioneer,[11] in which he said that a prominent Lakota from the Fort Peck Reservation in Montana told him about the beliefs that his people hold regarding extraterrestrial phenomena.

“We do talk about folks coming down to earth,” he said, “in round shaped objects or balls of light  from the skies.…I was told [by elders] that we had to use [sacred] songs to protect against these folks…as they stole Indian people and mainly our children.”

The Lakota India then went on to describe an UFO encounter that he and others experienced in 2009, during a solemn ceremony in a sweat lodge, dedicated to the passing of a close family member and significant native figure.

“I saw a [hovering ball of light] and it was with us for four days and four nights, March 2009, as we were holding four days of prayer, fasting, pipe ceremony, sweat house ceremony, and I am not the only one who witnessed this, brother,” he said.
He told us that nearby “children were screaming and pushing all trying to get inside the sweat house, as a big ball of light was right above them, and it broke off into little lights and were buzzing all around the sweat house.” On the last day of the ceremony, he said, “a flash or beam of light” emanated out of the hovering object to the sweat lodge.”

The Lakota beliefs about the abduction of children by the “balls of light” lend some degree of credence to the modern alien abduction phenomenon. It seems such events have been going on for centuries, and only recently entered into the public consciousness. It may seem paradoxical, of course, to learn that the kachinas, who attend to the prayers of the Hopi for rain and good harvest, are also guilty of abducting children. However, kachinas can be both benevolent beings as well as malicious creatures against whom one needs to know the methods to protect oneself.

Gary David mentioned a Hopi story about a kachina who took a young woman from Oraibi to the Land of the Cloud People. However, this was not a case of forced abduction but a matrimonial union between the star people and humans, reminiscent of the Biblical “sons of the gods”, who married mortal women and gave birth to the giants called Nephilim.

As per the story, the girl’s father had recently died, causing a hardship for the family. The Cloud People had been watching her and her mother and decided that the kachina should marry her. One day the girl was in the fields picking squash blossoms when “she heard a roaring sound, a hissing noise like wind coming through a small place, and she wondered what it was.” Then she saw the approaching kachina, who was good looking with a beautiful kilt and sash and a brightly painted body. He said he wished to marry her and told her he would take her to his home tomorrow. The next morning he returned to the same field.

“He took her by the hand and walked with her over the hill, and she saw there was something there, something round, and they went straight for the thing and got into it. And when they did that, he did something and there was a big roar and soon they were off the ground. The thing they were in seemed to be spinning, and it streaked off. After a while he said, ‘We are here.’ They were down on the ground again and the roaring and hissing sound stopped. He took her up to his village, to his home. When they got to his house his mother and father were very happy that he had found the girl they had spoken of.”[12]

One can only wonder how the narrator of this story knew what happened after the craft reached its destination. Did the girl return to her parent’s house to share stories of her life in the otherworld? Did she make use of an interdimensional postal service? Was she throwing down rocks with symbols scribbled on them? We can only speculate. What is evident, however, is that the Native American belief in the star people and the kachinas provide a context for them to understand the UFO phenomenon and all that goes along with it, unlike in the westernized society, where the ancient beliefs have been mostly pooh-poohed away, leaving us without the necessary framework on the basis of which we can try to understand some of these mysterious goings-on.

It is not as though the Native Americans stories about flying saucers and aliens is restricted to their legends and rock art, and that they have no new experiences or ideas to share. Many Native Americans living in remote reservations continue to witness bright flying objects in the sky every year. However, most of these sightings go unreported, for the natives are wary of the law enforcements agencies and the government given their past history, and they do not want to get marked out as someone who believes in UFOs or has witnessed them.

Ruth Hopkins, who is of Native American ancestry, is a former science professor and tribal attorney. She wrote an article in the Indian Country Today magazine[13] in which she described her experience of seeing an UFO when she attended a memorial service for her husband’s grandfather on The Crow Creek Sioux Reservation in South Dakota. Sometime around midnight, while standing at the window of the hotel, her husband’s eye caught something very unusual, and she rushed to the window to catch a glimpse.

“Off to the south, there was a solid, large, orange, bright light. It was stationary for several minutes. Then the light shot off with amazing speed directly to the east, in a straight line. It stopped abruptly, moving with intelligence. Suddenly, the light broke off into three separate smaller orange lights, equidistant from one another. They streaked across the sky in opposite directions: one traveled east, another one north, and the last one, west.”

Ruth Hopkins was inspired by her sighting to dig out more such cases of UFO sightings in various Native Reservations, and found that many people have witnessed mysterious bright objects traveling at high speeds in the sky and pulling off astonishing manoeuvres. One of these cases was related by a college student of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, which involved a particularly large object that caused the lights in the house to go off.

“My oldest brother saw a U.F.O. after dark. My mom asked him to run out to the car to get her lighter and just a few moments after he left, the power in the house went. I felt a weird surge through my body when it happened. My mom had gone to the breaker when the lights came back on. She met him in the hallway as he came in the back door, and he was white as a ghost. She asked what happened. He told her that something as big as our property and the neighbor’s…was hovering right over our place. Both properties were about 1/2 acre total.”

These accounts illustrate that UFO sightings still occur in Native American reservations – and they concur in a great measure to the sightings that happen elsewhere – even though they do not get much media publicity. However, the natives do not feel alarmed by the sightings since they are an integral part of their legends. The dominant belief amongst the various tribes is that the UFOs are flying shields operated by the star people or kachinas, who were their teachers and guides at the beginning of the Fourth World. Some of them even left their DNA through union with mortal woman, which is why some people regard them as their distant ancestors.

Yet another strange facet of the Native American experience with UFOs is the claim that some of the elders have the ability to communicate via telepathic means with the beings controlling these flying objects. The famous Oglala Sioux holy man, Black Elk, who lived from 1863 to 1950, claimed to have had telepathic communication with the “little men” who emerged from a brilliantly lit flying disk that hovered above him.[14] Whether this was true, or simply a bit of showmanship, it is difficult to tell. However, the fact that Native Americals, in general, regard the kachinas who pilot these crafts as their spirit guides, and still pray to them for rain and good harvest, evinces a possibility that our understanding the UFO phenomenon can be enriched through an understanding of the indigenous beliefs and traditions.


[1] David H. Kelley, Eugene F. Milone, Anthony F. Aveni, Exploring Ancient Skies: A Survey of Ancient and Cultural Astronomy (Springer Science & Business Media, 2011) 473.
[2] Frank Waters, Book of the Hopi, Ballantine Books, New York, 1963, p 22-26.
[3] Gary A. David, Hopi “Flying Shields” Over Arizona,
[4] Frank Waters, Book of the Hopi, p 206.
[5] Ibid, p 82.
[6] Ibid p 202.
[7] Gary A. David, Hopi “Flying Shields” Over Arizona
[8] Ibid
[9] Ibid
[10] David Wroth, “Wandjina Dreamtime Story”, Japingka Aboriginal Art, July 2019,
[11] DAVID S. LEWIS, “Ancestors in High Places”, The Montana Pioneer,
[12] Gary A. David, Hopi “Flying Shields” Over Arizona.
[13] Ruth Hopkins, “UFO Sightings in Indian Country”, Indian Country Today, Apr 26, 2012,
[14] DAVID S. LEWIS, “Ancestors in High Places”, The Montana Pioneer,

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *