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Native American Magpie Mythology

Magpies play different roles in the folklore of different Native American tribes. In the legends of some tribes, Magpie is portrayed as a gossip and busybody who annoys the other animals. In other legends, Magpie is a loyal friend of humans who warns them of danger or takes up their cause in times of trouble. In Cheyenne tradition, the magpie is considered a sacred messenger of the Creator. The Hopi and other Pueblo tribes see the magpie as a directional guardian, associated with the east.

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Magpies are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Magpie Clans include the Hopi tribe, whose Magpie Clan is named Posiwngyam.

Native American Legends About Magpies

*Race Among the Animals:
    Cheyenne legend telling how Magpie won the right to eat buffalo for humans.
How the Buffalo Hunt Began:
    Another version of the Cheyenne race legend, with Magpie and Hawk working together to make humans the rulers of the animals.
*Origins of the Buffalo Dance:
    Blackfoot myth about Magpie helping a Blackfoot heroine make peace with the Buffalo people.

Recommended Books of Magpie Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Birds of Algonquin Legend:
    Interesting collection of legends about magpies 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 magpies.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
    A good book on the meaning of magpies and other birds in world mythology, including Native North America.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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