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Native American Beaver Mythology

Beavers play a variety of roles in Native American folktales from different tribes. In some tribes, they are portrayed as hardworking and persevering, but in others, they represent selfishness and stubbornness. In some stories, Beaver causes floods or droughts by building dams without considering how they will affect other animals. In some Athabaskan tribes of Alaska, Beaver is the culture hero, a benevolent Transformer who uses his wits to slay monsters and shape the world to the benefit of the people. Beavers symbolize wealth and hunting success in many Alaskan and other Northwest Coast tribes. To the Blackfoot people, Beaver is a symbol of wisdom and is associated with the sacred pipe. In the Cherokee tribe, Beaver played a more whimsical role, similar to the American tooth-fairy, with young children surrendering baby teeth that have fallen out to Beaver along with a good-luck song.

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Beavers are also common clan animals in many Native American cultures. Tribes with Beaver Clans include the Muskogee Creek (whose Beaver Clan is named Itchhasualgi or Eccaswvlke,) the Chippewa (whose Beaver Clan and its totem are called Amik,) the Menominee, the Abenaki, the Caddo, the Mojave, the Huron and Iroquois tribes, and Northwest Coast tribes such as the Tlingit and Kwakiutl. Beaver is an important clan crest on the Northwest Coast and can often be found carved on totem poles. The Cherokee and Creek tribes also have a Beaver Dance among their tribal dance traditions.

Native American Beaver Gods and Spirits

Amishkuapeu, the Beaver Master (Innu)
Smart Beaver (Alaskan Athabaskan)

Native American Legends About Beavers

Glooscap and the Beavers * Koluskap and the Giant Beaver * Glooscap Shrinks the Animals:
    Wabanaki Indian legends about the culture hero Glooskap fighting beaver monsters and making them smaller.
*How the Beaver Got His Tail:
    Ojibwe legend about Beaver's flat tail.
*Beaver and Muskrat:
    Menominee legend about Beaver stealing Muskrat's tail.
*The Good Looking Woman * The Pretty Maiden:
    Lenape legends about a girl punished for being rude to Beaver.
*Cree Flood Myth:
    Cree legend about a giant beaver that caused the earth to flood.
*The Sacred Weed * A Tobacco Legend:
    Blackfoot legends about the beavers teaching people to grow tobacco.
*Beaver Medicine * The Story of Two Brothers:
    Blackfoot stories about a Great Beaver that saved an unjustly accused man and sent beaver medicine to the people.
*Beaver Meat:
    Blackfoot legend warning against killing beavers.

Recommended Books of Beaver Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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Beaver Steals Fire:
    A Native American legend about Beaver and the origin of fire, presented by the Salish and Kootenai tribes.
Turtle's Race With Beaver:
    Lively picture book illustrating a Seneca Indian legend about Beaver.
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 beavers.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Good collection of American Indian tales about beavers and other animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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