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Native American Wild Rose Mythology

To Native Americans in many western tribes, wild roses were a symbol of life. Paiute, Nez Perce, and Interior Salish people believed that wild roses kept ghosts from causing harm to the living, so they were often placed in the homes or clothing of people who were in mourning or felt haunted. Wild roses were also sometimes attached to cradleboards to bring vitality to infants. In some tribes, rose motifs were used in quillwork, beadwork, or other Native arts to represent survival and vitality as well. Wild roses also played a role in traditional Native American herbal medicine, and rosehips (the fruit of wild roses) were eaten as food in many tribes, either directly or as part of a pudding.

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Native American Legends About Wild Roses

Indian Rose Story:
    Anishinabe legend about the importance of treating plants with respect.
Why Wild Roses Have Thorns:
    Saulteaux Ojibwe legend about Nanaboozhoo teaching roses to defend themselves.
Wild Roses, Hips and Haws:
    Article by an Ojibwe author on the tribal importance of rosehips and the wild rose.

Recommended Books of Wild Rose Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Song of the Seven Herbs:
    Retellings of several tales about the wild rose and other North American herbs and flowers.
Native Plant Stories:
    Excellent collection of Native American folklore about plant spirits, by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Native American Ethnobotany:
    Comprehensive book on the names and traditional uses of flowers and other plants throughout Native North America.



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