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Native American Dogwood Mythology

Dogwoods are symbols of protection and safety in southeastern Native American tribes. In some Mohawk communities, the primeval Tree of Life in the Sky World was said to be a giant dogwood tree. In Northwestern tribes such as the Quileute and Makah, the dogwood symbolized good luck and dogwood berries were eaten during religious ceremonies. Dogwood fruit was a popular food item for many Native Americans, especially the Interior Salish tribes, but to Blackfoot people, the dogwood tree was associated with masculinity and women used to refrain from eating its fruit. The bark and roots of dogwood trees were frequently used as medicine herbs and dyes, as well. Dogwood sap, however, is toxic and was used in some tribes as poison.

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Dogwood trees are also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Dogwood Clans include the Zuni tribe, whose Dogwood Clan is called Pikchikwe.

Native American Legends About Dogwoods

The Rock People, Laurel People, and the Dogwood People:
    Cherokee Indian story telling of the three clans of Little People.

Recommended Books of Dogwood Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Plants of Power: Native American Ceremony and the Use of Sacred Plants:
    Interesting book about the importance of dogwood and other native plants to traditional Native American spirituality.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American stories about plants, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Native American Ethnobotany:
    Comprehensive book on the names and traditional uses of trees and other plants throughout Native North America.



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