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Native American Pine Tree Mythology

Pines are symbolically and ceremonially important trees to many Native American people, but their meaning varies from tribe to tribe. The pine tree is a symbol of longevity to the Algonquian tribes of the northeast, and to the Great Lakes tribes, such as the Anishinabe and the Potawatomi, pine trees also represent wisdom and harmony with nature.

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The Iroquois tribes saw the pine tree as a symbol of peace, and burned pine wood as an incense to pacify ghosts and banish nightmares. Among tribes of the Great Basin and Plateau, pine trees were often associated with rain, and pine cones or wood were burned in hopes of changing the weather to be more favorable. In the Southwest, the pinion pine is considered sacred by some tribes; its sweet-smelling wood is burned as incense, and its pine gum is used as protection against witchcraft. Pine pitch and bark are also used as medicine herbs in many tribes, and pine nuts are an important food source for many Western tribes, particularly in California and the Southwest. Pine needles are also used in some traditional kinds of Native American basketry.

Pine trees are also used as clan symbols in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Pine Clans include the Pueblo tribes.

Native American Legends About Pine Trees

Gluskonba and the Four Wishes * The First Pine Trees:
    Wabanaki Indian legends about the origin of pine trees.
*Tree of Peace:
    Oneida pine tree story about and the formation of the Iroquois league.
Manabozho and the Flood:
    Menominee legend about the pine tree saving the culture hero from a flood.
*Old Man and the Women:
    In this Blackfoot legend, the culture hero is turned into a pine tree by Chief Woman.

Recommended Books of Pine Tree Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American stories about plants, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Native American Ethnobotany:
    Book on the traditional uses of trees, herbs and other types of plants throughout Native North America.
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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