Cougars play a variety of different roles in Native American mythology.
In some Western tribes, seeing a cougar or hearing its screams is an evil omen, and cougars are
often associated with witchcraft. On the other hand, among eastern tribes such as the Seminoles and
Shawnees, cougars were considered noble animals with powerful hunting medicine, and the Panther
is one of their major clan animals. In the legends of these tribes, Panther sometimes features as a
leader or warrior of the animal people. And among the Pueblo tribes, Cougar is believed to have
powerful hunting medicine and considered one of the six true directional guardians, associated with the
north and the color yellow. Several Pueblos had Cougar Societies, and Zuni hunters carried stone
cougar fetishes for protection, ascribing to them both healing and hunting powers. In South America,
cougars were associated with wealth and the earth by the Quechua (Incan) people, and many
Quechua still consider it lucky to catch sight of a cougar today.
The cougar is also one of several North American animals whose name has Native American
origins, though they are rather obscure-- the word "cougar" is actually a French corruption of a
Portuguese corruption of a real Brazilian Indian name for the cat (cuacuara, guazuara,
cuguacuara, or susuarana, in different Tupi-Guarani languages.) "Puma," another
common English name for the same animal, comes from the Quechua language by way of Spanish.
Tribes with Cougar Clans include the Creek (whose Cougar or Tiger Clan is named Katsalgi or
Kaccvlke), the Chippewa (whose Cougar Clan and its totem are called Misibizhiw,) the
Chickasaw, the Caddo, the Osage, the Shawnee, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.