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Native American Wolf Mythology

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.

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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.

Names of Native American Wolf Gods and Spirits

Jiibayaabooz (Anishinabe)
Kweo Kachina (Hopi)
Malsum (Wabanaki)
Moqwaio (Menominee)
Pia'isa (Shoshone)
Rou-garou (Metis)
*Tivaci (Chemehuevi)

Native American Legends About Wolves

*Wenebojo and the Wolves:
    Chippewa Indian legends about the mythical hero Nanabozho's adopted wolf brother.
*Of Glooskap's Birth, and of his Brother the Wolf:
    The 'Malsum' wolf story as originally recorded by Charles Leland.
*The Wolf, the Fox, the Bobcat and the Cougar:
    Legend about a wolf spirit that helped the Shoshone-Bannocks defeat the warlike Little People.
*Raccoon and Wolf Folktales:
    A series of Potawatomi trickster tales about Raccoon getting the better of Wolf.
*Fox Tricks Wolf:
    Menominee legend about Wolf being fooled out of some maple sugar.
*Manabush and his Brother: * Manabozho's Wolf Brother:
    Menominee stories telling how Nanabozho's brother Wolf became chief of the dead.
*Why Wolves and Dogs Fear Each Other * How Dogs Came to Live With the Indians:
    Algonquian legends about Dog defecting from the Wolf people to the humans.
*Which One Do You Feed? * Two Wolves:
    Native American fables about a good wolf of wisdom battling against a bad wolf of anger.
*Cree Indian Wolf Legend:
    Cree story about a friendly wolf pack that became the first dogs.
*The Foundling Who Was Befriended By Wolves:
    Legend about a Cree man rescued by wolves after a murder attempt.

Recommended Books of Wolf Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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Dene Traditions from Northern Alberta:
    Excellent collection of Athabaskan legends about Wolverine and Wolf spirits.
Wolf Tales:
    Children's book of Indian wolf myths from several different tribes.
Brother Wolf: A Seneca Tale:
    Picture book based on a Seneca legend about Wolf and Raccoon playing tricks on each other.
Wolves and the Wolf Myth in American Literature:
    Interesting book comparing wolves mythology from various Native American tribes and modern American fiction.
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 wolves.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Good collection of American Indian folklore about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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