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Native American Raven Mythology

In the mythology of many Northwest Indian tribes, Raven is honored as a culture hero. He is a revered and benevolent transformer figure who helps the people and shapes their world for them, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Raven stories have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior causing trouble for him and the people around him. Raven is noted for negative traits such as gluttony, greed, and impatience as well as for his heroism and great deeds.

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Ravens are also used as clan animals in many Native American cultures, particularly those of the Northwest Coast (such as the Haida, Tlingit, Tsimshian, Kwakiutl, Nisgaa-Gitksan, and Salishan tribes) and the northern Athabaskan tribes (such as the Tanaina.) Raven is an important clan crest on the Northwest Coast and can often be found carved on totem poles, bentwood boxes, and other traditional northwestern art. Other tribes with Raven Clans include the Menominee tribe.

Native American Raven Gods and Spirits

Arctic Raven (Eskimo-Aleut tribes)
Dotson'sa (Alaskan Athabaskan)
Northwest Raven (Northwest Coast tribes)

Native American Legends About Ravens

Raven Tales:
    A collection of traditional Northwest Coast Raven legends presented by the Quileute tribe.
*Raven's Athabaskan Tales:
    Online collection of seven Ahtna and other Alaskan Athabaskan legends about the trickster hero Raven.
Raven Annoys Octopus:
    Northwest Coast Raven legend about the trickster learning a lesson about pestering others.
*Flying Wonder:
    Cree legend about a witch taking the form of a raven to take revenge on his inlaws.
*Raven and His Grandmother:
    Aleut myths about the wives of the trickster hero Raven.

Recommended Books of Raven Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

The Raven Steals the Light:
    An excellent collection of Raven myths and stories by an acclaimed Haida artist.
How Raven Stole The Sun:
    A wonderful picture book telling the classic Raven story about the origin of daylight.
A Man Called Raven:
    Beautiful book by a Native author and artist about a Raven spirit teaching respect for nature.
Raven: A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest:
    Another children's book about Raven stealing the Sun.
Ravensong: A Natural And Fabulous History Of Ravens And Crows:
    Fascinating book exploring both the natural history of ravens and crows, and their meaning in Native American mythology.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred Raven 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 Raven and other trickster animals told by Native American storytellers from various tribes.
    This collection is suitable for all ages.
Spirits of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies:
    Book by a Karuk elder about the meanings of Indian animal spirits, including a chapter on ravens.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about ravens and other animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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