The raccoon is one of several North American animals whose name has Native American origins.
The word for "raccoon" was among the Powhatan words first recorded by English colonists at
Jamestown, variously spelled aroughcun, arathkone or rahaugcum. (The
Spanish word for "raccoon," mapache, comes from the Nahuatl/Aztec names for the creature,
mapachin or mapachtli.)
Raccoon is a trickster spirit in many North American tribes, particularly common in more light-hearted
tales aimed at children. In some Raccoon legends he is portrayed purely as a mischief-maker, while the legends of
other tribes focus on Raccoon using his cleverness and dexterity to escape from danger or acquire food.
Raccoons are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Raccoon Clans
include the Muskogee Creek (whose Raccoon Clan is named Wotkalgi or Wotkvlke,) the
Chippewa (whose Raccoon Clan and its totem are called Esiban,) the Chickasaw, the Shawnee,
and the Menominee. Some eastern tribes, like the Lenape, Shawnee, and Iroquois, also have a Raccoon
Dance among their tribal dance traditions.