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Native American Stories about People Who Married Animals

To properly understand these stories, it is necessary to be aware of the nature of the animals that appear in Native American myths-- specifically, that animal spirits frequently assume human form in the mythology of many Native American tribes. Just as nature gods like the Sun or Morning Star can marry mortals and father heroes, so can animal spirits like bears and wolves. They are not understood to be literal animals, but emissaries from the animal kingdom. Sometimes their human spouses are even surprised to learn their true identities later (showing clearly that they did not have the physical form of animals when they first met!)

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Animal Marriage Stories From Different Tribes

*The Story of Pamola:
    Legends about Penobscot people who married into the family of the mountain bird spirit Pomola.
*The Owl Husband:
    Legend of a Passamaquoddy girl who accidentally married the great horned owl.
*The Snake Husband:
    Peoria legend of a careless woman who became a rattlesnake's wife.
The Devil-Fish's Daughter:
    Tale of a Haida man who married an octopus woman.
*The Painted Turtle:
    Illinois Indian legend about a woman who married a turtle.
*The Girl Who Joined The Thunders * Thunder Son:
    Lenape and Shawnee stories about a woman who unwittingly married a snake-man.
*The Girl Who Climbed to the Sky * The Porcupine Husband:
    Arapaho legends about a woman who married a porcupine.
*Origins of the Buffalo Dance:
    Myth about a Blackfoot heroine who married a buffalo chief.
*The Piqued Buffalo Wife:
    Blackfoot legend about a man who married a buffalo woman.
*The Buffalo Wife * Buffalo Woman:
    Caddo legends about a man who won a buffalo wife.
*The Girl Who Married A Dog:
    Cheyenne legend about a woman who married a spirit dog.
*The Boy Who Married A Mountain Lion:
    Caddo legend about a man with a cougar wife.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Antelope Woman:
    A delightful children's book telling an Apache folktale about a woman who married an antelope.
The Frog Princess:
    Picture book based on a Tlingit folktale about a girl who married a frog.
Native American Animal Stories:
    An excellent collection of American Indian legends about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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