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Native American Yew Tree Mythology

The yew tree is less important to the mythology of Northwestern Native American tribes than other trees like the cedar and spruce. The greatest significance of the yew to Native American culture was how prized its wood was for the construction of traditional archery bows. The Haida name for the yew tree literally means "bow tree," and yew bows were valued in the northwestern tribes as much as Osage orange bows were in the south. Like other evergreens, yew trees are associated with protection in Northwestern cultures, and their connection with bows make them an occasional symbol of strength and manhood.

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Native American Legends About Yew Trees

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

Recommended Books of Yew 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 yew trees and other woodland and prairie plants.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American stories about plants, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
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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