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Native American Mink Mythology

In Northwest Coast legends, Mink is portrayed as an irreverent trickster and troublemaker, whose exploits are culturally inappropriate in humorous ways (including many lewd misadventures with women.) It is taboo to eat minks in certain Northwestern tribes such as the Tlingit. In other tribes, Mink is often considered a lucky animal, bestowing success at hunting or fishing (or in Northern California, gambling) upon humans that have earned their favor. Among the Innu of eastern Canada, Mink plays the mythological role of Earth-Diver, being the only animal to succeed at diving to the ocean floor to bring up land for the culture hero to make the earth with. Minks are associated with the midewiwin medicine society by some Anishinabe groups, and mink skins were often used for medicine bags.

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Minks are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Mink Clans include the Chippewa tribe (whose Mink Clan and its totem are called Zhaangweshi.) Mink is an important clan crest in some Northwest Coast tribes, and can sometimes be found carved on totem poles.

Native American Mink Gods and Spirits

Atshikash-napeu, the Mink Master (Innu)
Born-to-be-the-Sun (Kwakiutl)
*Mink (Northwest Trickster)

Native American Legends About Minks

*Mink and Whale:
    Puget Sound Salish legend about the adventures of the trickster Mink.
*Ojibwe Mink Story:
    Mink tricks two fish into fighting each other so he can eat them.
*Raven and Mink:
    Athabaskan legend about the two tricksters Mink and Raven quarreling over food.

Recommended Books of Mink Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

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 minks.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great book of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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