Indigenous American languages American Indian people Indian arts and crafts
|Find Native American ancestors in your family tree|
Stinging nettles most often appear in Native American legends as comic relief, with the bumbling arrogance of a trickster character (or the gullible stupidity of one of his victims) ending in an ignominious tumble into the nettles. In reality, Native American people knew perfectly well how to avoid being stung by nettle plants and in fact, how to eat them safely in salads (by boiling the leaves in water and discarding the water.) Stinging nettles also played a role in traditional Native American herbal medicine, particularly to treat skin ailments. Ceremonially, stinging nettles were most important in the Pacific Northwest, where men rubbed nettles on their bodies in fishing, whaling, and seal-hunting rituals. This was variously said to provide strength, protect against weather, or mask human odors. In the Kawaiisu tribe of southern California, stinging nettles were one of several herbs considered to be a source of dream power, and a person who wished to have a medicine vision might walk through nettle plants so that the stings would prepare him for the dreams.
Back to Native American plant legends
Back to Native American Indian nature spirits
Back to our Native American Indian god list
Back to Native American legends and symbols
Native American Indians The Micmac tribe Cherokee Indians tribes Native American tattoo meanings
Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered American Indian languages?