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Native American Fern Mythology

Ferns had many practical uses in traditional Native American life: they were eaten as greens, boiled into herbal teas, and woven into mats. Ferns are associated with water by many tribes and considered important medicine plants-- different species of ferns were used by Native Americans to treat everything from digestive problems to arthritis to childbirth pains. Virginia moonwort, a type of fern known as "rattlesnake masterpiece," was said to cure snakebite and ward off snakes. And maidenhair ferns were a symbol of traditional dancing in many Northwest Coast tribes, and used as part of traditional Northern California dance regalia.

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Native American Legends About Ferns

*Glooskap and Malsum * Glooscap and His Brother * The Death of Malsum:
    Wabanaki stories about the culture hero killing his wicked brother with fern root.

Recommended Books of Fern Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Strength of the Earth: The Classic Guide to Ojibwe Uses of Native Plants:
    Book of Ojibwe traditions about the meaning of ferns and other woodland and prairie plants.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American stories about plant spirits, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Native American Ethnobotany:
    Comprehensive book on the names and traditional uses of plants throughout Native North America.



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