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Paper: ALMA Observatory and the Lican Antai Indigenous Community
Volume: 531, ASP2020: Embracing the Future: Astronomy Teaching and Public Engagement
Page: 244
Authors: Vidal, D.
Abstract: ALMA is the largest astronomical observatory in history until now, placed in one of the most aggressive planet environments: Los Andes mountain range. The Chajnantor Plateau, located at 5000 meters above sea level, hosts the 66 ALMA antennas and the correlator, and at 2900 meters above sea level, the offices and residence for the staff. This vast territory is the homeland of the Lican Antai or Atacameno people living here for the last twelve thousand years. The Atacamenos has a beautiful way to understand nature, and in particular, the sky. Unlike the Greek cosmovision and that of the western world, in which stars are grouped to form constellations, in their cosmovision, constellations are distinguished in the sky's dark areas. The always clear skies provide the most incredible starry nights and allow observers to see in those dark dust clouds in the Milky Way where Atacamenos imagined llamas, frogs, foxes, and other things on their dark constellations. These sky areas emit a light that is invisible to our eyes but becomes visible when observing it with the ALMA antennas scrutinizing the secrets of that cold Universe, where stars and planets are born. So, Atacamenos and ALMA pay attention to the same regions in the sky, giving us a beautiful coincidence. Over the years, ALMA has built a close relationship with indigenous communities. This presentation will talk about the support in science teaching and inclusion in the Toconao town school, and about the projects founded by ALMA that are allowing indigenous groups to develop in different areas. On top of that, the presentation will include the efforts to rescue and protect the Atacameno cultural heritage located in the ALMA premises, such as old campsites or “Estancias” that were reconstructed and turn into site museums. Both of us are learning together from the traditional knowledge and the most technical one. We would like to present this work, and answer questions coming from the public.
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