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Native American Grouse Mythology

Grouse are rarely referred to directly in older recordings of Native American legends. This is probably because the English and early American people who translated their words became confused and identified the birds as "partridge" instead. Partridge are not native to North America and were not introduced here until the early 1900's, so it's likely that most of these stories were in fact referring to grouse or quail, types of birds which are common in North America. In particular, one of our Mi'kmaq volunteers identified the Mi'kmaq hero Pulowech (usually translated as "Partridge") as actually being a ruffed grouse, and the name of the Passamaquoddy character Mitchihess (also called a "partridge") probably comes from the Passamaquoddy word for "grouse," Mochiyehs.

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Grouse are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Grouse Clans include the Chippewa tribe (whose Grouse Clan and its totem are called Aagask) and the Prairie Chicken clans of the Mandan and Hidatsa. Grouse is used as a clan crest in some Northwest Coast tribes, such as the Tsimshian, and can occasionally be found carved on totem poles.

Native American Grouse Gods and Spirits

Pulowech (Micmac)

Native American Legends About Grouse

*How the Grouse Built Canoes:
    In this Passamaquoddy Indian story, Mitchihess the grouse tries to build himself a fancier canoe
    than the other birds, and ends up embarrassing himself.
*The Adventures of the Great Hero Pulowech * Robbery And Murder Revenged:
    In this Micmac Indian legend, Grouse is an honorable warrior who tracks down and kills his wife's murderers.
*Coyote, Wren, and Grouse:
    Kalispel legend about a wronged grouse couple defeating Coyote.
*The Bird Tribes:
    Cherokee legend about the creation and symbolism of the grouse and other birds.

Recommended Books of Grouse Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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The Algonquin Legends of New England:
    This dated but useful collection of Wabanaki Indian folklore includes the saga of the Micmac grouse hero Pulowech.
Birds of Algonquin Legend:
    Interesting collection of Native American legends about grouse and other birds in Algonquian tribes.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
    A good book on the symbolism of birds in world mythology, including North and South America.

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