Native American Mythology

Native American mythology goes way back in history and it can vary greatly between the hundreds of different Native American tribes that used to be spread throughout this land. A lot of the Native American myths could be considered folktales since most seem to be about regular people, instead of gods. At the same time the Native American culture believes that everything is given life by divinity.

In a lot of the Native American mythology the people in the stories do not even have names. Cultural principles are the most important points in these stories rather than the individual characteristics of the characters depicted in the myths. Many of the more well know stories in Native American mythology are their stories of creation, or Emergence stories as many tribes call them. Since many American Indian myths were never written down for thousands of years they were just passed down through the generations by word of mouth in story form so there is still much inconsistency in these myths.

In Native American mythology there are some common factors that exist with all tribes and this is the belief that there is a divine force that is behind everything, from the Indians themselves to the trees, dirt and the moon and sun. Many tribes refer to this divine force as “The Great Mystery”. This force they refer to as “The Great Mystery” is prevalent in one way or another in a lot of the stories passed down in history as Native American mythology. Another important part of these Native American myths were the use of animals, which in many stories communicated with the Native Americans. Many tribes believed that each animal species had a spiritual leader that would communicate with the Indians and usually the spiritual leader of that species would embody a specific spiritual power. There are also many other Native American cultural myths that tell stories of heroic journeys or quests which help explain the origins of their tribes. These myths always had some sort of symbolism though and some other important aspects that were always used were the four directions, north, south, east and west and sometimes a fifth direction was symbolic as being the center or balance point of life. There was also a lot of symbolism involving the five elements of life to the Natives; these would be soul, earth, air, fire, and water. These points were always mentioned if not literally then symbolically. There are many Native American myths that have been recorded in written form since the late nineteenth century.

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