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Whippoorwills do not appear often in the folklore of Native American tribes. Like other nightbirds, their cries are believed to be omens of death or misfortune in some tribal traditions. In the Mohegan tribe, the cries of the whippoorwill are associated with the Little People, who are benign but mysterious nature spirits. The Hopi and other Pueblo tribes see the cardinal as a directional guardian, associated with the underworld.
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