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Native American Parrot Mythology

Parrots are not native to North America further north than Mexico, but they became important to Southwestern Native American culture nonetheless. Native American tribes maintained extensive trade networks with one another, so that abalone shells (found only on the west coast) and parrot feathers (found only in Mexico, Central and South America) were both found in the regalia of Plains Indian tribes many hundreds of miles from their source.

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In the case of parrots, however, not only their feathers were brought to distant lands, but living birds as well. Parrots were popular pets in the ancient Anasazi civilization, and they were one of the earliest and most popular luxury goods brought by Mexican Indian traders. In colonial times, macaws and Amazon parrots were both kept in captivity among Southwestern Native American tribes. The Hopi tribe (descendants of the Anasazi) still have a Parrot kachina among their divine spirits, and parrot imagery is common throughout Southwest Indian art. The Hopi see the parrot as a directional guardian, associated with the south, and some Pueblo tribes consider parrots a symbol of fertility.

Parrots are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Parrot Clans include the Hopi tribe (whose Parrot Clan is named Kyarngyam or Gash-wungwa), the Zuni, and other Pueblo tribes. Many Pueblos also have a Parrot Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

Native American Parrot Gods and Spirits

Kyash Kachina (Hopi)

Native American Legends About Parrots

*South American Flood Myths:
    Collection of flood legends from South America, including one about the Parrot Mother of the Jivaros.
*The origin of some Mishongnovi Clans:
    Hopi legend about the beginnings of the Parrot Clan.

Recommended Books of Parrot Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Native American Animal Stories:
    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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