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Native American Hummingbird Mythology

Hummingbirds are viewed very positively in most Native American tribes. They are associated with beauty, harmony, industriousness, and integrity.

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In legends, Hummingbird is often portrayed as a healer or as a spirit being who helps people in need, and sometimes plays the important mythological role of fire-bringer. Seeing a hummingbird is a sign of good luck in many Native American tribes, especially Northwest Coast tribes. In ancient Mexico, hummingbirds were considered sacred and associated with royalty and warriors; the Aztec god Huitzilopochtli, patron god of the Aztec capital Tenochtitlan, had the hummingbird as his divine animal and was sometimes depicted in hummingbird form in traditional Aztec art. In some Mexican tribes today, hummingbirds are believed to be messengers from the afterworld or manifestations of a dead person's spirit.

Hummingbirds are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Hummingbird Clans include the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico. Hummingbird is an important clan crest in some Northwest Coast tribes, and can sometimes be found carved on totem poles.

Native American Hummingbird Gods and Spirits

Huitzilopochtli (Aztec)
Tocha Kachina (Hopi)

Native American Legends About Hummingbirds

Cherokee Hummingbird Legend:
    Cherokee Indian story about Hummingbird retrieving tobacco from the geese.
Bird Myths of the Cherokees:
    Cherokee Indian legends about the hummingbird, crane, and buzzard.
How the Buffalo Hunt Began:
    Cheyenne legend telling how Hummingbird helped to win leadership over the animals for humans.
*Gift to the Hummingbird:
    Mayan legend about the other birds making a wedding dress for the hummingbird.

Recommended Books of Hummingbird Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

The Magic Hummingbird:
    Beautiful picture book by a Hopi author, illustrating a Native folktale about a hummingbird that helped two lost children.
Hummingbirds: Facts and Folklore from the Americas:
    Informative book about hummingbirds including legends and stories from many tribes.
Race of Flitty Hummingbird and Flappy Crane: An Indian Legend:
    Children's book based on a Cherokee legend about a race between Hummingbird and Crane.
The Legend of the Hummingbird:
    Picture book illustrating a Puerto Rican Indian legend about the origin of hummingbirds.
How Hummingbird Got Fire: Rumsien Ohlone Stories:
    Well-told California Indian legend about Hummingbird bringing fire to the people.
The Hummingbird King:
    Traditional Guatemalan tale about a Mayan chief blessed by the hummingbird.
Birds of Algonquin Legend:
    Interesting collection of legends about hummingbirds 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 Indian animal spirits, including a chapter on hummingbirds.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
    A good book on the meaning of birds in world mythology, including North and South America.



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