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Native American Rabbit Mythology

Rabbit is a trickster animal in most of the southeastern Native American tribes, and occasionally in some of the northeastern tribes as well. The Great Lakes Algonquian hero Nanabozho is also associated with rabbits and is sometimes referred to as the Great Hare (although he himself has the form of a human man except for one appearance as a rabbit spirit when he was a child.) In many Mexican and Central American tribes, rabbits are symbols of fertility; in Aztec mythology rabbits were associated with pulque (a type of traditional alcoholic beverage) and with drunkenness and promiscuity.

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Rabbits are used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Rabbit Clans include the Hopi (whose Rabbit Clan is named Tapngyam or Taf-wungwa) and the Shawnee. The Kiowa tribe also had a Rabbit Society (called Kasowe) as one of their four ceremonial societies, whose members were all children and young teens. And the Rabbit Dance is one of the important social dances for the Native American tribes of the Northeast Woodlands and Northern Plains, which can be seen at some intertribal powwows today.

Native American Rabbit Gods and Spirits

Aplikmuj (Micmac)
Great Hare (Algonquin)
Ji-Stu (Cherokee)
*Little Hare (Ho-Chunk)
Mahtoqehs (Maliseet-Passamaquoddy)
Mateguas (Abenaki)
Nanabozho (Anishinabe)
Ometotchtli (Aztec)
*Rabbit-Boy (Sioux)
Trickster Rabbit (Southeastern tribes)
Tschimammus (Lenape)

Native American Legends About Rabbits

The Lazy Rabbit Tale * Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting * How Rabbit Got His Split Lip:
    Rabbit tales from various eastern tribes in which the trickster unsuccessfully tries to mimic other animals.
Otter and Rabbit Legend:
    Wabanaki stories about the rivals Rabbit and Otter playing tricks on each other.
*Rabbit Calls a Truce:
    Another Wabanaki Rabbit myth, in which Rabbit and Otter team up to save the Penobscots from starvation.
*How Rabbit Got Long Ears:
    In this Maliseet story, Rabbit is punished for playing a trick on the other animals.
*Rabbit's Wish For Snow * The Rabbit Story:
    Narragansett and Lenape legends about how Rabbit got his unusual shape by falling from a tree.
*How the Rabbit Lost His Tail * How Master Rabbit Went To A Wedding:
    Passamaquoddy folktales in which Rabbit gets his white puff tail by helping a friend out of a pit.
    (In the second version, he then absconds with his friend's wife, but that's tricksters for you...)
*Rabbit and the Moon Man:
    Micmac legend about Rabbit snaring the Moon.
*Run, Rabbit, Run * Rabbit and Wildcat:
    Mi'kmaq and Passamaquoddy stories about Rabbit outwitting a murderous lynx.
The Young Man who was Saved by a Rabbit:
    Passamaquoddy story of a hero who defeated a Kewahqu with the help of Rabbit.
How The Deer Got His Horns:
    Cherokee legend about Deer winning antlers from the trickster Rabbit.
The Rabbit and the Elk:
    Sioux story about Rabbit being out-tricked by Elk.
Why Opossum's Tail is Bare:
    Cherokee legend about Rabbit punishing Opossum for his vanity.
How the Rattlesnake Learned to Bite:
    Pima legend about Rabbit paying a fatal price for harassing Rattlesnake.
*Frog and Rabbit:
    Cree folktales about Rabbit's constant fearfulness.
*Rabbit Medicine:
    Oneida legend about the origin of the Rabbit Dance.
*The Origin of Night and Day * The Legend of Rabbit and Owl * Rabbit and Possum:
    Algonquian legends in which Rabbit wins the cycle of daylight.
*The Cannibal Rabbit:
    Cree legend about a dangerous man-eating rabbit.
*Rabbit and Big Man-Eater * The Adventures of Rabbit and Big Man Eater * Rabbit and Big Man-Eater * Rabbit Kills Big Man-Eater:
    Alabama stories about Rabbit defeating a man-eating monster.
*How Rabbit Stole Mountain-Lion's Teeth:
    Caddo legend about Rabbit tricking Mountain-Lion.
*Rabbit and the Dancing Turkeys:
    Caddo legend about Rabbit helping Wildcat to catch some gullible turkeys.

Recommended Books of Rabbit Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Rabbit Lore and Legend:
    Children's picture book presenting three Native American tales about rabbits.
Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting * How Rabbit Lost His Tail * Rabbit and the Wolves * Rabbit and the Well:
    A series of Cherokee legends about the trickster Rabbit getting into and out of trouble.
The Opossum's Tale:
    A good children's book illustrating a Cherokee legend about Rabbit tricking Opossum out of his tail.
Rabbit's Wish For Snow:
    Picture book by a Narragansett author about Rabbit getting himself into trouble by creating snow.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about rabbits and other animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred Rabbit and other trickster stories from many different tribes.
    Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.
Trickster: Native American Tales:
    Excellent collection of stories about Rabbit and other trickster animals told by Native American storytellers from various tribes.
    This collection is suitable for all ages.



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