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Native American Lizard Mythology

Lizards play positive roles in the folklore of many Native American tribes. In Plains Indian tribes, lizards are associated with healing and survival, and also with masculinity. In some Plains tribes, a newborn boy's umbilical cord was sewn into an amulet in the shape of a lizard to ensure his health and strength. Today, many Cheyenne people still consider it bad luck to kill a lizard. In the mythology of some California Indian tribes, such as the Pomo, Lizard was one of the major figures of creation, who made humans partially in his image. In Southwestern tribes, horned lizards (sometimes called "horny-toads" in English) are considered sacred medicine animals; Gila Monster (a type of large poisonous desert lizard) features as a powerful hero in Navajo and other Southwestern legends. In other tribes, lizards are associated with protection (especially of children), prosperity, renewal, and good luck.

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Lizards are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Lizard Clans include the Hopi (whose Lizard Clan is named Kuukutsngyam or Kukuts-wungwa) and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.

Native American Lizard Gods and Spirits

Monongya Kachina (Hopi)

Native American Legends About Lizards

*The Legend of the Blue Lizard:
    Cahuilla legend about a sacred lizard.
*Blue Jay And Lizard And The Grizzly-Bears:
    California Indian legend about a neighborly lizard prevailing over a family of greedy grizzly bears.

Recommended Books of Lizard Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Efraín of the Sonoran Desert: A Lizard's Life Among the Seri Indians:
    A heartwarming children's story about the relationship between zebra-tailed lizards and the Seri tribe.
Ishi's Tale of Lizard:
    Folktale about the California Indian hero Lizard, compellingly narrated by the last survivor of the Yana tribe.
Opossum and the Great Firemaker:
    Picture book sharing a South American legend about how the opossum and iguana got their forms.
Native American Animal Origin Stories:
    Collection of children's stories based on Native American legends about the origins of the lizard and other animals.
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 lizards.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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