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Native American Crow Mythology

Many people are under the mistaken impression that crows were viewed as harbingers of death in Native American cultures, but in fact, that is not true at all. We do not know of any Native American tribe in which crows were seen as omens of death. Indeed, just the opposite, seeing a crow was (and still is!) considered good luck by many tribes. It is true that crows will eat carrion, but so do many other animals not typically associated with the dead such as bald eagles, bears, etc. In Native American folklore, the intelligence of crows is usually portrayed as their most important feature. In some tribes, the crow is conflated with the raven, a larger cousin of the crow that shares many of the same characteristics. In other tribes, Crow and Raven are distinct mythological characters.

Crows are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Crow Clans include the Chippewa (whose Crow Clan and its totem are called Aandeg), the Hopi (whose Crow Clan is called Angwusngyam or Ungwish-wungwa), the Menominee, the Caddo, the Tlingit, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.

Native American Crow Gods and Spirits

Crow Mother (Hopi)

Native American Legends About Crows

*Rainbow Crow Legend * Mānāka'has, the Rainbow Crow:
    Lenni Lenape myths about Crow bringing fire to the people.
How The Crow Came To Be Black * A Crow Story:
    Plains Indian legends about Crow's feathers becoming black due to an alliance with the buffalo.
*The Magic Pots:
    Chippewa Indian story about disobedient children who were turned into crows.
*When the Animals Left Lenapé Land:
    Lenape Indian legend about giants and crows that taught the people a lesson about respecting animals.
The Creation of the World:
    Gros Ventre myth featuring Crow as the only original animal to survive the Great Flood.

Recommended Books of Crow Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

*The Growing Rock: A Native American Tale:
    Picture book based on a Miwok legend about Crow learning to think before making decisions.
Rainbow Crow:
    Picture book illustrating a Crow myth about the origin of fire.
Ravensong: A Natural And Fabulous History Of Ravens And Crows:
    Fascinating book exploring both the natural history of ravens and crows, and their role in Native American mythology.
Birds of Algonquin Legend:
    Interesting collection of legends about Indian crows 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 animal spirits, including a chapter on Native American crows.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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