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Native American Bat Mythology

Bats are not common characters in Native American folklore of the United States and Canada. When bats do appear in the folklore of these tribes, their most important feature is usually their intermediate appearance between birds and mammals, either causing Bat to be rejected by one or both groups or enabling him to act as a spy or traitor. In some stories Bat plays a minor role as trickster. Among some Northwest Coast tribes, bats are considered lucky animals, and in some Pueblo tribes of the Southwest, the movements of bats are thought to predict the weather. Like Americans today, some Native American tribes mistakenly believed that bats were more dangerous than they really are. Some tribes thought that bats fed on people (in reality, there are no bats native to Canada or the United States that prey on other mammals, and even the vampire bats of Latin America rarely bite people.) The Blackfoot even believed that bats were poisonous.

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Bat mythology is more extensive among the Indian cultures of Mexico and Central America, where bats are symbols of death and the underworld, sorcery, darkness, and sacrificial rites. In some Mexican tribes, bats are believed to carry messages to and from the spirits of the dead. In others, it is the bat who is believed to cause the sun to set, bringing on the night. The ancient Mayan and Zapotecan religions featured bat gods and goddesses that inhabited the underworld. And in South America, where vampire bats are common, indigenous folklore contains many bat-monsters based on these tiny but unnerving bloodletting creatures.

Native American Bat Gods and Spirits

Camazotz (Maya)
Evaki (Bakairi)

Native American Legends About Bats

*Why Bats Are Classified As Animals * Indian Bat Story * The Ball Game Between the Birds and the Animals:
    Southwest Indian legends about the origin of bats.
*The Origin of Bats:
    Anishinabe legend about a hero turning cannibal women into bats.

Recommended Books of Bat Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

The Great Ball Game:
    Delightful picture book illustrating a Creek legend about Bat winning a contest between the animals and the birds.
People of the Bat:
    Interesting book about bat-worship and other traditional spirituality among the Tzotzil Mayas.
How Chipmunk Got Tiny Feet: Native American Animal Origin Stories:
    Collection of children's stories based on Native American legends about the origins of the bat and other animals.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Good collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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