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Native American Swift Fox or Kit Fox Mythology

Today, scientists believe that kit foxes and swift foxes are two different species of fox, but in the past, they were believed to be the same animal. This is why the kit fox (which is native to the southwest United States and Mexico) plays an important mythological role in Northern Plains tribes like the Blackfoot-- the Blackfoot word Sinopa (also spelled Siinopaa or Sinopawa), which is usually translated into English as Kit Fox, actually refers to the swift fox, which is native to the prairies.

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The kit fox (really a swift fox) is important as a medicine animal in many Plains Indian cultures. Kit Fox appears as a character in the Arapaho creation myth, and is associated with the sacred pipe by that tribe. The Kit Fox Society (also known as the Swift Fox Warriors) was one of the major warrior societies of the Blackfoot tribe and is still an important organization today. Other warrior societies using the Kit Fox as their symbol include the Kit Fox Men of the Arapahos, the Kit Fox Soldiers of the Cheyennes, and the Tokala (Kit Fox) Society of the Lakota Sioux. In all of these Plains Indian cultures, the type of fox referred to is actually the one that is today known as the swift fox.

Foxes play a trickster role in the legends of many Mexican Indians and some Apache tribes, but that trickster character is represented by the gray fox, not the kit fox. Kit foxes represent intelligence and speed in the southwest, and are generally viewed positively. Among the O'odham tribes (Pima and Papago,) kit foxes are considered friends of humankind, and are never eaten. The Water Coyote clan of the Hopis is also associated with kit foxes.

Native American Legends About Kit Foxes

The Animal Bands:
    Legend about the Kit Fox and other animal hunters giving gifts to the Blackfoot people.

Recommended Books of Kit Fox Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies:
    Book by a Karuk elder about the meanings of Indian animal spirits, including a chapter on foxes.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about foxes and other animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.




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