Academic journal article Social Education

Powerful Creatures: Native American Animal Myths

Academic journal article Social Education

Powerful Creatures: Native American Animal Myths

Article excerpt

Animals play important roles in the stories and teachings of different Native American tribes. Mammals, birds, reptiles, fish, and insects personify aspects of the human spirit as well as reveal truths about the balance of forces in the natural universe. Test your knowledge of native fauna. Match each myth with one of the animals shown.

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1. In a Seneca creation myth (common to many tribes but told differently in each), this animal packed mud from the bottom of the endless sea on her back to cushion the fall of Star Woman, who was banished from the sky. The back of this animal became the curved and varied surface of the Earth, upon which all land animals live.

2. This noble bird carried grains in her feathers during the great flood that covered all the Earth. When the water receded, the people took these seeds and planted food crops, thus avoiding starvation. (Hint: Benjamin Franklin thought this animal should be our national bird.)

3. This animal is a great trickster, a jokester, and a poacher of game. He is also joyful and creative. …

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