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Native American Condor Mythology

The condor is one of several animals with a name that comes from a Native American language-- "condor" comes from the Quechua (Inca) name for the bird, cuntur.

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Condors are considered sacred animals by many Native American cultures, particularly California Indian tribes and the Andean tribes of South America. According to the origin mythology of the Wiyot Indians, Condor was the ancestor of their tribes. Other California tribes believe condors have healing powers, and California Indian doctors frequently use condor feathers as part of their traditional medicine ceremonies. In the Quechua and Aymara cultures of South America, Condor is a symbol of the sky, and is frequently represented in tribal art. The Mapuche people call Condor the King of Birds, and believe he embodies the four cardinal virtues of wisdom, justice, goodness, and leadership.

Some California tribes, like the Chumash, Miwok and Pomo, have also had a Condor Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

Native American Legends About Condors

The Eagle and the Condor:
    Yokut legend about Condor being outwitted by Eagle.

Recommended Books of Condor Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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Condor: Spirit of the Canyon:
    Children's book about the Condor, by a Yaqui Indian author.
Huatya Curi and the Five Condors:
    Picture book based on a Quechua Indian myth about a god imprisoned in condor's eggs.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
    A good book on the meaning of birds in world mythology, including North and South America.

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