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.
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:
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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