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Native American Stories About Animal Sacrifice

In most Native American cultures of North America, there was never any tradition of animal sacrifice as it was practiced by the ancient Greeks and other European, African, and Asian societies (i.e. sacrificing an animal to the gods in order to honor them.) Instead, Native American legends are full of stories of a different kind of animal sacrifice, in which animals agree to sacrifice themselves to feed humans and/or other predators. In some tribes the act of hunting is considered sacrificial in nature.

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Legends About Animal Sacrifice

*Nukumi and Marten:
    Mi'kmaq legend in which the marten offers himself and the animal kingdom as prey to feed the people.
Brother Crow and Brother Buffalo:
    Shawnee legend about how Crow taught hunters to thank the buffalo for their sacrifice.
How the People Hunted the Moose:
    Métis-Cree legend about the Moose People sacrificing themselves as food for the people.
*Origins of the Buffalo Dance:
    Myth about a Blackfoot heroine who convinced the buffalo to be food for the Indians.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Mwakwa Talks to the Loon:
    Gorgeous picture book illustrating a Cree legend about the animals sacrificing themselves
   if the people promise to hunt and fish responsibly.
Salmon Boy:
    Excellent retelling of a Northwest Coast legend about the salmon offering themselves as food
   to the people if they are treated respectfully.
Whale Snow:
    Children's book depicting the Inuit tradition of whales sacrificing themselves to the people as food.
Buffalo Woman:
    Classic Plains Indian legend about how the buffalo agreed to be hunted by man.
Native American Animal Stories:
    An excellent collection of American Indian legends about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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