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Native American Woodpecker Mythology

Woodpeckers are considered lucky birds by many Native Americans, particularly in Western tribes, and are associated with friendship and happiness. In some California Indian tribes, woodpeckers are considered medicine birds, and woodpecker scalps and feathers have traditionally been used to adorn ceremonial objects, headdresses, and dance regalia. Woodpecker is an important clan crest in some Northwest Coast tribes, and can sometimes be found carved on totem poles.

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Native American Woodpecker Gods and Spirits

Papa'xes (Lenape)

Native American Legends About Woodpeckers

*The Story of the Maple Tree * Woodpecker and the Sugar Maple:
    Lenape folklore about the woodpeckers and the maple tree helping each other.
The Woodpecker Girls * Master Rabbit and the Woodpeckers:
    Mi'kmaq legend about Rabbit unsuccessfully trying to imitate woodpeckers.
*Why Coyote Stopped Imitating His Friends: * When Coyote Imitated Woodpecker:
    Similar legends from the Caddo tribe, in which Coyote makes a fool of himself imitating Woodpecker and other animals.
*The Legend of the Woodpecker:
    A humorous Odawa Indian story about woodpeckers, in the Anishinabe language with English translation.
*How Water Was Lost And Recovered:
    Alabama myth about a woodpecker ending a drought.
*Woodpecker Describes Himself * The Lewis Woodpecker:
    Description of Woodpecker from Apache mythology.

Recommended Books of Woodpecker Stories from Native American Myth and Legend
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Nanabosho and the Woodpecker:
    A nice retelling of an Indian Woodpecker story about the trickster hero unsuccessfully imitating his host.
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 woodpeckers.
Birds of Algonquin Legend:
    Interesting collection of legends about woodpeckers and other birds in Algonquian tribes.
Flights of Fancy: Birds in Myth, Legend, and Superstition:
    A good book on the meaning of woodpeckers and other birds in world mythology, including Native North America.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about woodpeckers and other animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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