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Native American Crane Mythology

Cranes are associated with good luck in many Native American tribes. Native fishermen, especially, used to consider it a good omen to see a crane while fishing. In some Native American folklore, Crane plays the role of peacemaker. In others, he is notable for his vanity. To the Anishinabe tribes, cranes represented leadership and skill at speaking, and the Cheyennes associated sandhill cranes with lightning.

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Cranes are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Crane Clans include the Chippewa (whose Crane Clan and its totem are called Baswenaazhi or Ajijaak,) the Menominee, the Hopi (whose Crane Clan is called Atokngyam), the Zuni (whose Crane Clan name is Kalokta-kwe,) and other Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. Crane is an important clan crest in some Northwest Coast tribes, and can sometimes be found carved on totem poles. Some tribes, such as the Creeks and Chumash, also have a Crane Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

Native American Crane Gods and Spirits

Khenkho/Supernatural Crane (Kwakiutl)

Native American Legends About Cranes

Bird Myths of the Cherokees:
    Cherokee Indian legends about the hummingbird, crane, and buzzard.
*The Merry Tales of Lox, the Mischief-Maker:
    In Wabanaki tales like these, Crane is depicted as a vain character who is easily flattered.
*The Crane and the Otter:
    Assiniboine legend telling how sandhill cranes got their brown feathers.

Recommended Books of Crane Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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Frog Brings Rain:
    A good children's book illustrating the Navajo Indian myth about Frog and Crane saving the first people from a great fire.
Race of Flitty Hummingbird and Flappy Crane: An Indian Legend:
    Children's book based on a Cherokee Indian legend about a race between Hummingbird and Crane.
Legends of the Crane:
    Collection of folklore and literature about cranes from all over the world, including Native North America.
Birds of Algonquin Legend:
    Interesting collection of Native American legends about cranes and other birds in Algonquian tribes.
Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies:
    Book by a Karuk elder about the meanings of Indian animal spirits, including a chapter on cranes and egrets.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
    A good book on the meaning of cranes and other birds in world mythology, including Native North America.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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