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Native American Marten Mythology

Like their cousins the fishers, martens are usually portrayed as brave heroes in Woodland Indian folklore (whereas weasels and wolverines tend to play more negative roles.) In the Mi'kmaq tribe, Marten has an especially important meaning as the first animal to give himself up as food to the human race; as a reward for his sacrifice, the culture hero Glooskap resurrected Marten and adopted him as his brother. In the Anishinabe tribes, martens are symbols of determination and skill at hunting. In California Indian tribes, martens are considered lucky animals like other members of the weasel family. And in Northwest Coast tribes like the Tlingit, martens are associated with sorcery and are not eaten for that reason.

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Martens are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Marten Clans include the Chippewa (whose Pine Marten Clan and its totem are named Waabizheshi) and the Menominee.

Native American Marten Gods and Spirits

Abistanaooch (Micmac)
Uapishtan-napeu, the Martin Master (Innu)

Native American Legends About Martens

*Nukumi and Fire: * The Coming of Nukumi:
    Wabanaki legends about Marten sacrificing himself to feed grandmother Nukumi and becoming the adopted brother of the culture hero Glooskap.
*The Kidnapping of Glooskap's Family * A Wizard Carries Off Glooscap's Housekeeper * Glooskap and Winpe:
    Three versions of a Mi'kmaq legend in which a giant kidnaps Glooskap's adopted brother Marten.

Recommended Books of Marten Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

How Marten Got His Spots:
    A good book of Indian Marten and Coyote stories produced by the Kootenai tribe.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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