The Dogon Tribe and Sirius B
The Dogon Tribe is a group of about 100,000 individuals who live in Burkina Faso in West Africa. They live around the Bandiagar Cliffs, where most of them dwell in caves. Until about the last century, it is said that these farming people were relatively secluded from outside society. They kept to themselves, continuing their tribal traditions. If their seclusion is fact, it makes part of their oral history and religion rather mysterious to the rest of the world.
Dogon religion and oral tribal history avers that the Dogon Tribe was visited by aliens from the Sirius star group long ago. These aliens were amphibious beings that bestowed their knowledge of their home on the Dogon. The Dogon call these aliens the Nommos. It would appear that the Dogon had extensive knowledge of the Sirius star system before the outside world had a chance to give it to them and without a telescope, which would have been necessary to gain this information without being told it. Whether they received this information from the Nommos and whether the Nommos truly exist is another mystery altogether.
Sirius B is a star that is invisible to the naked eye. According to anthropologists who visited the Dogon in the 1930’s, the tribe was aware of the existence of this star, which they call “Po Tolo.” Furthermore, they knew every detail of the white dwarf near Sirius B. They knew the length of its orbit in years, the shape of its orbit and the fact that the white dwarf is quite dense. The Dogon also say there is another star in the system that they call “Emma Ya.” Thusfar, Emma Ya has not been found by astronomers. Of course, it may not even exist.
The rest of the world was aware of the existence of Sirius B before it became aware that the Dogon possessed such knowledge. Therefore, there are claims that the Dogon had contact with the outside world of which they do not speak or of which they do not remember, as their history is strictly oral or was, at that point. This is entirely possible. However, some say that they must have encountered some media (books, magazines or articles) that contained the information. That would beg the question, “How did they read it?” There is no way of knowing if there really is a logical explanation for the tribe’s knowledge.
If there was an outside influence for this knowledge without extra-terrestrial origins, that would not explain how the Dogon came to have legends of alien visitors. It also does not explain how the idea of Emma Ya was incorporated into these legends. It is possible that the Dogon embellished on what they knew and made those embellishments part of their culture. However, that is also impossible to know. Religion is not something easily shaken and fiction in religion is not something practitioners will ever admit. Therefore, we have yet another possibility in this mystery that is impossible to prove or disprove.
There is no telling how the Dogon came upon their knowledge of Sirius B and the White Dwarf. At this point, there is no eliminating the possibility that fish-like aliens gave it to them. Regardless, it is interesting how the Dogon took this bit of scientific knowledge and incorporated it into their tribal identity. They made it part of who they are as a people. It seems that they do not have extensive scientific knowledge outside of this, so their behavior is a pretty interesting look at how scientific knowledge is used by superstitious people. Of course, it could also be a pretty interesting look at what people do with knowledge bestowed upon them by aliens.
Sirius and the Dogon, retrieved 5/19/11, vega.lpl.arizona.edu/sirius/A3.html
Nick Fortuna, The Religion of the Dogon, retrieved 5/19/11, dickinsg.intrasun.tanj.edu
Dogon Information, retrieved 5/19/11. uiowa.edu/~africart/toc/people/dogon.html