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Native American Spruce Tree Mythology

Spruce trees are mythologically important plants among Southwestern tribes, where they are symbols of the sky and directional guardians of the north. According to Hopi myth, the spruce tree was once a medicine man, Salavi, who transformed himself into a tree. For this reason, spruce trees are considered particularly sacred to the Hopis, who use spruce boughs to adorn kachina dancers.

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In the Pima flood myth, the father and mother of the Pima people survived the deluge by floating in a ball of spruce pitch. Among northern tribes, spruce trees (like other evergreens) are associated with peace and protection. Spruce is a particular symbol of good luck to the Salish tribes, and spruce roots are used as fiber for weaving basketry regalia by many Northwest Coast tribes. Northern Algonquian tribes used to bundle spruce and fir needles into sachets or herbal pillows to protect against illness.

Spruce trees are also used as a clan symbol in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Spruce Clans include the Hopi tribe, whose Spruce clan is named Salab. The Cherokee also have a Winter Spruce Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

Native American Legends About Spruce Trees

*Two-Men-Who-Changed-Things:
    Makah legend about the beginning of the world, including the origin of the first spruce tree.

*Ahneah the Rose Flower:
    Iroquois legend about a girl rescued from witches by the Spirit of the Spruce Tree.

Recommended Books of Spruce Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Strength of the Earth: The Classic Guide to Ojibwe Uses of Native Plants:
    Book of Ojibwe medicine traditions regarding spruce trees and other woodland and prairie plants.
Spruce-Root Basketry of the Haida and Tlingit * Dene Spruce Root Basketry: Revival of a Tradition:
    Books about the traditional Northwest Coast art of weaving special baskets from spruce-root fibers.
Native American Ethnobotany:
    Comprehensive book on the names and traditional uses of trees and other plants throughout Native North America.
*Sacred Trees:
    Interesting book on the role of trees in world mythology and spirituality, including Native North America.
The Meaning of Trees: Botany, History, Healing, Lore:
    Another good book about the folklore and cultural symbolism of trees worldwide.



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