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
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.