NATIVE AMERICAN MYTHOLOGY

The Gods and Spirits of North America...

The Gods Of North American Mythology

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Introduction

Before the 'White Man' came trampling all over the land, the native tribes and nations of what would one day become America had all the space in their world. They made good use of it, living close to nature in what might seem to modern society like a glorious camping vacation. If you ignore the constant threat of starvation and war.

Living so close to nature, you could see into the souls of animals — such as the BEAVER and BADGER — as they went about their business. You could feel the THUNDER-BIRD fixing the weather, and revel in the rascality of RAVEN, MANABOZHO and COYOTE with their tantalizing tricks.

The Native American peoples had (and still have) a huge respect for nature. Animal spirits in particular were very powerful and it was necessary to thank them and placate them if you wanted to make a meal of them. When corn arrived courtesy of the deities, it was also given its due measure of respect. The thought of organic free-range food sounds alluring, but hunting wasn't as easy as getting up in the morning, taking a stroll and shooting a few passing bison with your bow. Even Plains societies who lived off the prolific buffalo fell under the threat of starvation at times. When herds were found, the people were grateful and thanked the gods and spirits profusely.

Say what you like about nature, whenever humans get together there's always the risk of trouble. Many Native American tribes fought terrible wars with each other, especially when the larders were getting bare. Great warriors were held in high esteem, and the gods smiled upon them - so long as the medicine men did their bit in the ritual department. And at the end, Heaven was the Happy Hunting Ground, much the same as Earth but with better weather and animals that didn't run away.

Until the White Man came, it was a hard but healthy life, with tales round the campfire and no churches, shrines or temples necessary. And it was teetotalism round the totem poles as none of the spirits drank spirits. Although they did puff on the peace pipe a bit. We can hardly blame them.


REGIONS COVERED: North America, Canada and the Arctic bits. Many of the individual place names are covered under the relevant tribe.

Many Gods are spread across different regions, cultures and tribes. We've tried to pin them down to a particular area if possible. But corrections are always welcome, especially from people with first-hand knowledge. So if you know the region and would like to comment, we'd love to hear from you. Contact us here.

TRIBES, CULTURES AND PEOPLES COVERED: Abnaki tribe, Acagchemem tribe, Algonquin people, Apache folk, Arawak tribe, Bella Coola tribe, Blackfoot tribe, Cahuilla tribe, Cherokee people, Cheyenne tribe, Chibcha tribe, Chicasaw tribe, Chippewa people, Chitimacha tribe, Choctaw tribe, Creek folk, Dakota people, Delaware people, Eskimo people, Guarani tribe, Haida folk, Hopi folk, Indians, Huron tribe, Innu tribe, Innuit people, Inuit people, Iroquois people, Kato tribe, Kawaiisu tribe, Kwakiutl tribe, Lakota folk, Lenape folk, Malisseet tribe, Menomini tribe, Modoc tribe, Munsee tribe, Muskogean tribe, Navajo people, Nootka tribe, North East people, Northwest people, Pawnee folk, Passamaquoddy people, Penobscot tribe, Pericu tribe, Pikya tribe, Pima folk, Plains Indians, Pueblo people, Puget tribe, Selish tribe, Shoshone tribe, Sioux people, Skagit tribe, South East folk, Snohomish tribe, Tsimshian tribe, Tsimishian tribe, Tlingit tribe, Tunpa tribe, Wabanaki folk, Winnebago folk, Wintun tribe, Wiyot tribe, Yakima tribe, Yuki tribe, Yuma tribe, Zuni tribe. (And there's more where that came from...)

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INTRO
Introduction to the Native American section

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A-Z INDEX
List of names from Native American mythology