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Native American Nuthatch Mythology
The nuthatch is not a very mythologically important bird to most Native American tribes.
The Miwok tribe of California consider nuthatches to be medicine birds, and the Navajo
say they are a symbol of old age.
Ethnographic texts about the Cherokees also state that Cherokee
people considered nuthatches to be thieves who stole nuts and seeds from Squirrel, but we have
to say that none of our Cherokee volunteers have ever heard of such a thing. To the contrary,
nuthatches seem like rather hard-working birds to us. Perhaps there was once a legend about a
thieving nuthatch that is no longer passed down, which would have explained this old belief.
Or perhaps this was actually a mistranslation and the original story was about crows, which often
play a thieving role in Cherokee folklore.
Native American Legends About Nuthatches
The Bird Tribes:
Cherokee legend about the creation and symbolism of the nuthatch and other birds.
Recommended Books of Nuthatch Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
Native American Animal Stories:
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links
Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
A good book on the meaning of birds in world mythology, including North and South America.
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