Term Paper: Native Mythology to North America

Pages: 12 (3488 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Native Americans  ·  Buy This Paper


[. . .] In contrast to what Christians and Catholics believe that the first man and woman were Adam and Eve and were created by God, the myths of Native Americans have diverse ideas on origin of the earth, as well as the origin of the first man and woman. Some people believe that the earth came from the mud brought back by a person who dived in the ocean. Others, on the other hand, say that the earth is on the back of a giant turtle (Oaklamia, 2003). The first man and woman were said to came from a cave, or that they were brought on earth by a hero to assess them on how they can manage the earth.

In the myths that we have inherited from the Native Americans, spirits were sometimes represented as guardians to humans. Some myths suggest that every person is taken cared of and guided by a spirit. The spirits are said to make contact with a person during his puberty. Through prayers and fasting in a remote place, the person will be able to see his guardian spirit in the form of an animal. In most myths, the animal is a bird.

Another aspect in the spiritual element of the Native American myths is the recognition of the Four Directions. This is taken either literally or symbolically. It was believed that a balanced Four Directions makes things well. From the Native American Myths, balancing Four Directions is further defined as follows.

The Four Directions have to be in balance for all to be well with the world, and often a central point of balance is identified as a fifth direction; for example, four brothers represent the outer directions, and their sister the centre.

Brief Overview of the Native American Myths

Many of our Native American myths today have been in the American arts and literature for centuries and decades now. To name a few, some of these myths are the Lakota Creation, the White Buffalo Woman, Coyote Steals the Sun and the Moon, and the Navajo Emergence. The stories of these myths have served teachings and guidance in life, not only for the people of the past, but to every generation with which they were handed down. To provide an idea on the magic of Native American myths, and how they were able to capture the senses of the Native Americans, following is a brief overview of some of the popular Native American Myths.

Lakota Creation

This myth illustrates the creation of the universe. The myth tells that Maka (the earth) was created by Inyan (the rock). Upon creation, the waters was created out of Inyan's blood. The Skan (sky) was also created. Because it was dark, Maka appealed for the creation of light. Anp (the red light) was first created, followed by Wi (the sun). (Eddy, Steve. Native American Myths in Brief)

The White Buffalo Woman

This myth tells of a woman who came in a place where two braves were hunting. One of the braves wants to be the first one to approach the woman. He warns the other to stay out of his way. Once the foolish brave came to the woman, he turned into a pile of bones with a snake. The woman then went to the town of the brave. She handed the people of the town with a sacred pipe and showed them the sacred ceremony. When she was leaving the town, she turned into a buffalo, changing colors from red, into brown, into white, then into black. (Eddy, Steve. Native American Myths in Brief)

This myth represents a lesson in life - the bad attitude of greediness that was demonstrated by the brave who turned into bones. Some says that the white buffalo represents the Virgin Mary.

Coyote Steals the Sun and the Moon

This myth depicts a team-up of the coyote and eagle in hunting. However, their hunting was not successful. The coyote blames the lack of light. So, the two came to a village where two boxes of lights are kept - the sun and the moon. The coyote wants to steal the boxes. However, the eagle just wants to borrow them. After they got the boxes, the coyote, being stubborn, opened the boxes and the sun and the moon escaped, which created winter. (Eddy, Steve. Native American Myths in Brief)

This story presents a lesson about typical human qualities who creates improvement in civilization. However, in the midst of his goal, deception comes along his way.

Changing Woman - Navajo

This myth tells of the story about Changing Woman who is the goddess of the present times. Changing woman bore two sons who asked for powers from their father to get rid of the bad elements in the world. Sooner, the two sons persuaded their mother to transfer to a place where they can live a good life and practice their power - the West. However, later, the place was threatened by war. (Eddy, Steve. Native American Myths in Brief)

This is a story of the goddess of Navajo who gives fortune to the place.

Stone Boy - Brule Sioux

This myth depicts the story of a girl and her five brothers who hunt for food. While hunting, the five brothers got lost one by one. The girl, being left alone, killed herself by swallowing pebbles. However, she did not die and woke up about to give birth to a child. Stone Boy, the child, grew up and saves his lost uncles from a wicked old woman. (Eddy, Steve. Native American Myths in Brief)

This story represents the balancing of the Four Directions - represented by the four uncles. The old woman symbolizes a bad element, which when killed restores the Four Directions. The girl in the story may symbolize the center of the Four Directions.

The Mythical Characters

Myths are made alive because of the mythical characters that depict different roles and duties in the struggle of Native Americans in the past. Without the mythical characters, the meaning and value of myths will only live as entertaining stories. They are essential components of the myths where nature, God, and man are represented as communicating aspects in the creation and improvement of the world.

Following are a few of the mythical characters known in the Native American Mythology.

Native North American Gods

Anguta (Inuit/Eskimo)

Anguta is the gatherer of the dead (God, Heroes, and Myth. 2000). He takes the dead in the underworld and stays with him for one year.

Aningan (Inuit/Eskimo)

Aningan is the moon and the brother of sun. Together with his cousin, he lives in an igloo in the sky.

Asgaya Gigagei (Cherokee)

Asgaya Gigagei has the power of curing the ill. Depending on the gender of the patient, Asgaya Gigagei can either be a male or a female.

Atira (Pawnee)

Atira is the earth and the mother of all living creature (God, Heroes, and Myth. 2000).

Big Heads (Iroquois) giant-headed demon with no body flying in the midst of storms (God, Heroes, and Myth. 2000).

Coyote (Southwestern Indians, but known in other areas as well) trickster/clown who always roam around causing troubles (God, Heroes, and Myth. 2000). However, Coyote is considered as a teacher from which we learn lessons in life.

Kitcki Manitou (Algonquin)

The supreme of all, the Great Spirit that is prevalent in every Native American mythology; known as the Father of Life (God, Heroes, and Myth. 2000).

Sedna (Inuit/Eskimo) one-eyed giant and the Goddess of all creatures in the sea. Sedna was thrown into the sea by his father as a sacrifice. Coming to her would entail a number of battle against death (God, Heroes, and Myth. 2000).

Hino (Iroquois)

Hino is the god of the sky. Also known as the Thunder God. By his fire of lightnings, he is able to destroy evils (God, Heroes, and Myth. 2000).

Native American Animal Symbols

From the Gods, Heroes, and Myth, following is a list of some of the animal symbols prevalent in Native American Mythology.


The bear is the protector and symoblizes physical strength and leadership.


Sometimes considered an omen that bad things could happen. Is also considered a trickster.


Symbolizes speed and family protection.


He is often considered a messenger


Often considered the protector, carrier of prayers, visions & spirits.


Symbolizes renewal, fertility & springtime


Symbolizes devotion, permanence and eternity. This is a strong symbol in disguise because although the hummingbird is small in stature, it is extremely determined in it's own territory.


The owl is a very respected animal and is thought to symbolize the souls of the departed. They are connected with darkness and night and are considered a bad omen.


Symbolizes scrutiny and attention to detail.


Parrots are considered bringers of specific prayers and could bestow blessings.


Symbolizes fear and overcoming limiting beliefs.


The snake is usually seen in healing and… [END OF PREVIEW]

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