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Gophers are considered to be messengers of the underworld by many western tribes, and are sometimes seen as a symbol of death. In some Shoshone and Paiute traditions, gophers were considered medicine animals who could cause or cure sickness in people, and birth defects were said to be the result of pregnant women eating vegetables a gopher had touched. In Northern California tribes, a gopher digging near a family's home is thought to be an omen of illness or death; in the Karuk tribe, it was considered bad luck to kill or eat gophers. In Klamath and Modoc mythology, Gopher was the younger brother of the Creator and played a role in the tribal creation myth. Gophers sometimes appear as healers or wise advisors in Native folklore.
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