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Native American Agave Mythology (Pulque and Mescal)

Agave is not a Native American name for this plant (it comes from the Latin name,) but the Spanish name for agave, "maguey," comes from its name in the Taino Indian language.

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The agave is a succulent desert plant with a similar appearance to aloe, native to Mexico and the southwest United States. The agave plant was an important food source for southwestern Indian tribes including the Apache, Comanche, Mohave, and Paiute, and nearly all of the northern and central Mexican tribes. The versatile agave plant served many other practical purposes as well: its tough leaves yielded fiber for roof thatching, clothing, ropes, and (among the Aztecs) pulp for paper. Agave sap and juice were used as medicine herbs by many tribes. Perhaps the most culturally important use of the agave plant was the Mexican fermentation of agave juice into alcoholic beverages such as pulque, mezcal (or mescal), and tequila. Pulque was originally a sacred drink associated with the maguey goddess Mayahuel.

Agave is also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Agave Clans include the Mohave tribe and the Bribri tribe (whos Agave-patch Clan is named Amuk-uak.) The Agave Society (Kwaakwant or Kwanwimi) was the name of one of the traditional men's societies of the Hopi tribe.

Native American Agave Gods and Spirits

Mayahuel (Aztec)

Native American Legends About Agave

The Legend of the Agave:
    Aztec Indian myth about the origin of the agave or maguey plant.

Recommended Books of Agave Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Maguey Utilization in Highland Central Mexico:
    Ethnographic book about the maguey (agave) plant and its meaning to indigenous Mexican society.



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