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Native American Stories About Respect for Nature

Respect for nature is an important theme in Native American stories. Indeed, respect for nature is important in the mythology of all pre-industrial societies that depend on the natural world for their living.

Legends About Respect for Nature

*Arrowhead Finger:
    Story about a Penobscot heroine who respected plants and became a great herbalist.
*Nukumi and Fire: * The Coming of Nukumi:
    Mi'kmaq legends showing how the animals sacrificed themselves to sustain people, and therefore must be respected.
The Water Famine: * How Gluskabe Stole Tobacco:
    The Abenaki-Penobscot culture hero, Gluskabe, teaches that nature's gifts belong to all people.
Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle * Why We Need Wind * The Bird whose Wings Made the Wind:
    Wabanaki legends in which Gluskabe discovers the importance of wind to the ecosystem.
*The Story of Redfeather:
    Chippewa Indian legend about boy punished by Owl for his disrespect of the birds.
*Porcupine's Revenge:
    Menominee legend about Porcupine punishing two disrespectful girls.
Brother Crow and Brother Buffalo:
    Shawnee legend about how Crow taught hunters to respect the buffalo.
*Bitter Spirit and the Stone:
    Swampy Cree legend about a rock punishing the trickster hero for disrespecting it.
*Grandmother's Creation Story:
    Cree legend about the importance of respecting the animals.
*The Revenge of the Mountain Goats:
    Cree legend about a group of hunters punished for their cruelty and disrespect towards their prey.
*Cipayak, the Northern Lights:
    Cree legend about a disrespectful youth who offended the Northern Lights.
    Oral history from a Cree elder illustrating the importance of hunting respectfully.
*Yellowstone Valley and the Great Flood:
    Native American myth about a flood sent to punish people who were not living in harmony with nature.
*The Flood:
    Caddo legend about a nature spirit that punished the people with a flood for desecrating dead animals.
*The Boy Who Married A Mountain Lion:
    Caddo legend about a man who was punished for his brother's disrespect for the animal spirits.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

A Man Called Raven:
    Wonderfully illustrated book by a Native author and artist illustrating a Northwest Coast legend about respect for nature.
Sunpainters: Eclipse of the Navajo Sun:
    Beautiful book by a Navajo artist about an elderly man teaching his grandson to respect nature and the Earth.
Mwakwa Talks to the Loon:
    Delightful picture book illustrating a Cree legend about Loon teaching the people to hunt and fish responsibly.
Salmon Boy:
    Good telling of a Sechelt Indian story about a boy who teaches his tribe to respect the ways of the Salmon People.
Buffalo Woman:
    Picture book based on a classic Plains Indian legend about the respectful relationship between people and buffalo.
Eagle Boy:
    Northwest Coast Indian legend about humans and eagles learning to cooperate.
Heetunka's Harvest:
    Children's storybook based on Dakota legends about the punishment of a woman who disrespects a mouse.
*Mouse Woman and the Mischief Makers * Mouse Woman and the Muddleheads * Mouse Woman and the Vanished Princesses :
    Lively retellings of three Haida legends about a mouse goddess who teaches the people proper behavior and respect for nature.
Whale Snow:
    Children's book depicting the respect for whales in traditional Inuit culture.
Efraín of the Sonoran Desert: A Lizard's Life Among the Seri Indians:
    A heartwarming children's story about the respectful relationship between zebra-tailed lizards and the Seri tribe.

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