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Native American Panther Mythology

Panthers play a variety of different roles in Native American mythology. In some Western tribes, seeing a panther or hearing its screams is an evil omen, and panthers are often associated with witchcraft. On the other hand, among eastern tribes such as the Seminoles and Shawnees, panthers were considered noble animals with powerful hunting medicine, and the Panther is one of their major clan animals. In the legends of these tribes, Panther sometimes features as a leader or warrior of the animal people. And among the Pueblo tribes, Mountain Lion is believed to have powerful hunting medicine and considered one of the six directional guardians, representing the north and the color yellow. Several Pueblos had Cougar Societies, and Zuni hunters kept stone panther fetishes for protection, ascribing to them both healing and hunting powers. In South America, panthers were associated with wealth and the earth by the Quechua (Incan) people, and many Quechuas still consider it lucky to catch sight of a panther today.

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Tribes with Panther Clans include the Creek (whose Tiger or Panther Clan is named Katsalgi or Kaccvlke,) the Chippewa (whose Panther Clan and its totem are called Misibizhiw,) the Chickasaw, the Caddo, the Osage, the Shawnee, and the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico.

Native American Panther Gods and Spirits

Toho Kachina (Hopi)
*Underwater Panther
Viracocha (Inca)

Native American Legends About Panthers

*The Wolf, the Fox, the Bobcat and the Cougar:
    Legend about a panther spirit that helped the Shoshone-Bannocks defeat the warlike Little People.
*The Underwater Panther:
    Chippewa legend about two women's encounter with a legendary Water Panther.
*Underwater Panther * Mishipeshu:
    Wikipedia articles about the Water Panther.

Recommended Books of Panther Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Lion Singer:
    Charming picture book by a California Indian author about a boy who saves his sister from a panther.
Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies:
    Book by a Karuk elder about the meaning of Indian animal spirits, including a chapter on panthers.
Listening to Cougar:
    An interesting book about human interactions with panthers throughout history, including a chapter on Navajo panther myths.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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