Wolves figure prominently in the mythology of nearly every Native American tribe. In most Native
cultures, Wolf is considered a medicine being associated with courage, strength, loyalty,
and success at hunting. Like bears, wolves are considered closely related to humans by many
North American tribes, and the origin stories of some Northwest Coast tribes, such as the
Quileute and the Kwakiutl, tell of their first ancestors being transformed from wolves into men.
In Shoshone mythology, Wolf plays the role of the noble Creator god, while in Anishinabe
mythology a wolf character is the brother and true best friend of the culture hero. Among the Pueblo
tribes, wolves are considered one of the six directional guardians, associated with
the east and the color white. The Zunis carve stone wolf fetishes for protection, ascribing to them
both healing and hunting powers.
Wolves are also one of the most common clan animals in Native American cultures. Tribes with Wolf
Clans include the Creek (whose Wolf Clan is named Yahalgi or Yvhvlke), the Cherokee
(whose Wolf Clan name is Aniwahya or Aniwaya,) the Chippewa (whose Wolf Clan and its totem are
called Ma'iingan,) Algonquian tribes like the Lenape, Shawnee and Menominee,
the Huron and Iroquois tribes, Plains tribes like the Caddo and Osage, Southern tribes like the Chickasaw,
the Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, and Northwest Coast tribes like the Tlingit, Tsimshian, and Kwakiutl.
Wolf was an important clan crest on the Northwest Coast and can often be found carved on totem poles.
The wolf is also the special tribal symbol of several tribes and bands, such as the Munsee Delaware,
the Mohegans, and the Skidi Pawnee. Some eastern tribes, like the Lenape and Shawnee, have a Wolf
Dance among their tribal dance traditions.