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Native American Skate Mythology

Skates are native to both the east and west coasts of North America, and many Native American tribes eat them as seafood, though few of these tribes attribute much mythological importance to skates. The exception is southern Alaska tribes such as the Tlingit. In Tlingit mythology, skates are said to be the steeds or boats of the dreaded Land-Otter-Men, malevolent spirits who drown humans and steal their souls. Because of this association, Tlingit people viewed skates with discomfort and dread, considering them akin to ghosts. Traditional Tlingit people never ate skates. The Quinault also called the constellation we know as Orion by the name Skate.

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Skate is used as a clan symbol in some Northwest Coast tribes, such as the Tlingit and Haida, and skate crests can sometimes be found carved on totem poles.

Native American Legends About Skates

*Kaka' and the Land Otters:
    Tlingit legend featuring skates as the living canoes used by ghost otters.

Recommended Books of Skate Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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