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Native American Stories About Acceptance

Acceptance and tolerance of people who are different is usually thought of as a more modern value, but in traditional Native American culture, this has always been an important belief. Even in tribes that normally maintained very rigid gender roles and social restrictions, exceptions were always a possibility; there were women who were allowed to live as men and become warriors in societies where it was otherwise unacceptable for women to do these things, clanless people who were able to achieve status in societies that ordinarily would have required a clan connection, and so on. Many traditional Native American legends likewise stress the importance of accepting everyone, particularly orphans, poor people, immigrants from another tribe, captives (or slaves, in tribes that practiced slavery), and people with various disabilities. It is a common for a hero with one of these disadvantages to end up saving his or her tribe in Native American legends. In folktales for children, an animal who is small, weak, or ugly sometimes similarly saves the day.

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Legends About Acceptance

*Why Bats Are Classified As Animals * Story of the Bat:
    Creek Indian legends about how Bat became accepted as an animal.
*The Snake With Big Feet:
    Legend about a footed snake, rejected by his people, finding acceptance among the Blackfoot tribe.
*The Poor Orphan * The Foundling Who Was Befriended By Wolves:
    Algonquian legends about orphan children who become accepted as tribal leaders.
*The Boy Who Became Strong:
    Dene legend about a woman who is faithful to her blind husband despite her father's intolerance.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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The Little Duck Sikihpsis:
    Excellent picture book for kids, illustrating a Cree folktale about a duck learning to accept himself.
Blue Jay Girl:
    Charming picture book by a Chukchansi author about a girl learning to accept herself and her spirit animal.
The Great Ball Game:
    Another great children's book, adapted from the Southwest Indian legends about Bat finding acceptance from the animals.
Two Old Women: An Alaska Legend of Betrayal, Courage and Survival:
    A fascinating novel by an Athabascan author, based on a traditional legend of a tribe learning to value the elderly.

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