North American Mythology: Origin, Gods, Heroes +15 Legends

Today we review the North American Mythology. A territory with great stories, beings, myths, legends and gods of great power.

North American Mythology

North American Mythology

The North American Mythology, stands out for having a set of tales and stories that are traditional to the high regions of the American continent; and they are also directly connected to their religion although viewing these myths and legends from a graphic myth type perspective.

A great part of their myths are really stories of beings, facts and sacred places of the North American culture. They are characterized by being based on nature, therefore they are directly related to the change of climatic seasons, plants, animals and the elements of nature.

Origin of North American mythology

The North American Mythology has its origin in all the territory that comprises the northern part of the American continent from the Mexican region to Canada. In addition to the original inhabitants of America, its population was influenced by migrations from Asia, Europe and Polynesia.

This means that this mythology is made up of more than 236 ethnic groups, with more than 134 different languages and dialects throughout North America as a result of this mixture of cultures.

In addition, it should be noted that all the ethnic groups that make up the North American Mythology have their own customs, beliefs and mythology; individually.

But they all have in common different features, such as: fetishism, animism, totemism and the direct relationship with the fauna and flora of the territory as well as its geographical location and topography. Where the main objective is the diversity of cultures.

americas tribes map

The aborigines of North American mythology have always had the reputation of being a group characterized by savagery; however, this information is totally contradictory to the records of their culture, religion, myths and legends that have been passed from generation to generation until today.

History by region

Eastern Forest Region

This region encompassed the entire North American territory from the lines formed by the Labrador trees along Hudson Bay to the Gulf of Mexico. The inhabitants of the Eastern Woodlands were organized into tribes and in some areas as confederate groups.

With the arrival of the European settlers, they grew from a few hundred to thousands of inhabitants in these lands. These tribes had in common the belief in a single god, as a supreme deity creator of the world. He was commonly called “the great spirit”.

He was generally invoked through the reverence of his ancestors and was not visible to human sight. For this reason he was also called “the great mystery”. They also believed that the whole world was an island located in the shell of a giant tortoise.

Eastern Forests of North American Mythology
Eastern Forests of North American Mythology

Great Plains Region

Extends from the area of the Eastern Woodlands region to the Rocky Mountains in the west. The Great Plains region is characterized as an area of green pastures and lots of wildlife; especially full of bison.

They were very organized in agriculture, and the large rivers that run through the plains gave them a great advantage for planting corn, beans, vegetables, among others.

As a consequence of the arrival of the Europeans, the use of horses was introduced to the North American aboriginal culture; which considerably favored the tribes of the Great Plains region to promote hunting and transportation.

Most of their mystical beings and legends are directly related to the beliefs and religion of the Eastern Woodlands region. However, what was unique to the Great Plains tribes was the dance of the sun. This was the most characteristic belief of this region.

American Bison
The Great Plains of North American Mythology

Southwest Region

This is the area considered to be the arid region of North America, also called “the anthropologists of the Southwest”. Here are found an infinite number of hieroglyphic records of the tribes of North American mythology.

It was originally bounded by Arizona and Mexico, but over the years it extended from southern Utah to southwestern Colorado. In spite of the arid lands that predominate in this area, the tribes that belonged to the southwestern region excelled in agriculture.

One of the best known tribes in this region are the so-called “pueblo”; each of the tribes that belonged to this area had in common an individual calendar of mythological ceremonies specific to their beliefs. Generally, due to the strong condition of their land and climate, most of their ceremonies were especially dedicated to rain and harvest.

Tribes that make up the North American Mythology

The Algonquians of the Great Lakes, northwestern U.S.A

  • The Abenaki: noted for their shaman ceremonies called “medoulin”.
  • The Anishinaabe: the great tribe of the North American mythology of the Great Lakes.
  • The Cree: the tribe that dominates the Canadian prairies.
  • The Lenape: the North American tribe located on the Delaware River.

The abenaki

The North American Indians of the Great Plains

  • The Blackfeet: this tribe belongs to the culture of the North American aborigines of the Great Lakes.
  • The Crow: this is one of the tribes of the Great Plains where the great healing shaman called “Akbaalia” lived.
  • The Lakota: this North American tribe was also well known by the name of “Sioux”.
  • The Pawnee: it is the tribe of the North American mythology that covers the whole region of Nebraska.

The Muskogean tribes of the south and the Iroquois of the eastern United States

  • The Iroquois: are the tribe comprising the five united nations of the North American aborigines.
  • The Cherokee and Choctaw: are the original tribes of the southeastern United States and also of the Oklahoma area.
  • The Ho-Chunk: this is the North American tribe that settled in the Wisconsin region.
  • The Wyandot: they were also called “the Huron”, and came from the areas near Canada.
  • The Seneca: this tribe belongs to one of the Iroquois nations.

Other tribes of North American mythology

  • The region of Alaska and Canada: the most outstanding tribes were the Haida and the Inuit.
  • Pacific Northwest: there were the tribes of the Kwakwaka’wakw, the Lummi, the Nuu-Chah-Nulth, the Salish and the Tsimshian tribe.
  • The Mexican region: the Hopi, Miwok, Ohlone and Ute tribes settled in this area.
  • Thesouthwestern region of the United States: here the Pomo and Zuñi tribes are prominent.

Gods and other beings of North American mythology

From the Arctic region

  • Kaila: is the sky god of the North American mythology tribes of the Arctic region; he is considered the creator of the universe.
  • Amorak: is the wolf spirit of the Arctic tribes. It was created by the god Kaila to maintain the balance in the nature of the cold and its main objective is to devour the weak animals of the Arctic.

From the region of the eastern forests

  • God of the north: calls the mystical spirit of winter, provider and protector of game and animals. He is directly connected with the winter season and with the earth itself.
  • God of the south: this is called the spirit of summer, who is in charge of the harvest and fertility. His elements are fire and summer.
  • God of the east: he is the deity of the forests of the east who provides them with sunlight and its radiance; he is related to the element of air and spring.
  • God of the west: this god is the one who has dominion over the waters and the rains; in addition, his elements are water and the autumn season.
  • The thunderbird: this animal appears in most of the legends of the aborigines of North America, it is a mystical bird that controls the weather; and with its flapping wings it causes great thunder and with its eyes it throws enormous lightning bolts.
  • Great spirit: in this region it is also called “Kitchi Manitú”, it is the supreme deity of creation, but it has no form and is invisible.
  • Amotken: is a specific deity of the Selish Indians, and represents the creation of all things. It is a very wise and benevolent being.
  • The coyote: was the spirit messenger of the god Amotken.
  • Awonawilona: this deity, originally from the North American tribe of the Zuñi, is a bisexual god creator of water and humidity.
The Thunderbird

From the prairie region

  • The great mystery: it is for the tribes of the prairies the supreme being of the creation, whom they also called “Tirau’a” which means “arch of the sky”.

Myths and legends of North American Mythology

The divinity of the sea

This legend is about the goddess “sedna”, this story comes especially from the Eskimo tribes of North American mythology. Sedna was a virgin in charge of protecting the sea and all living beings that inhabited it.

One day Sedna heard the call of a handsome young man on the seashore, who was calling out to her. Sedna immediately fell madly in love with the supposed young man, but he was really an evil spirit who wanted to take over the sea, taking advantage of the virgin’s innocence.

Sedna’s father, desperate to save his daughter from the spell against the evil spirit, saw that the best solution was to die with her at the bottom of the sea. But Sedna did not want to die and clung to the spirit’s boat; then her father cut off her fingers and took her to die with him at the bottom of the sea.

Since then, North American Indians have believed that Sedna and her father watch over all beings living in the sea from the bottom of the sea. In addition to Sedna’s fingers, the animals that provide them with food, fat, clothing, weapons, etc. were born.

The prophecy of Hupahp

This legend has its origin in the Micmac tribe around the year 1400 A.D.; within the tribe there was a sorcerer who called himself “the prophet”. And he acquired his fame, thanks to the fact that he was the one who predicted and prepared the Micmac people against the arrival of the white man.

It was in the great celebration of the wedding between the sons of the great chiefs of the Micmac tribes and the Miami; that Hupahp suddenly before all present said aloud his prophecy. He said that in the next hundred years white men with fire-breathing weapons would arrive to exterminate the Indians.

Legend of Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan is a legendary hero of many of the myths of North America, he stands out in the culture and folklore of North American mythology. He is a giant lumberjack, who was characterized by extraordinary abilities.

This hero was always accompanied by his faithful blue ox, which was also of an exaggerated size and possessed great strength. According to the beliefs of the North American tribes, Paul Bunyan in his exploits was the one who created the great canyon and is also responsible for the creation of Mount Hood.

The big foot

It is a mystical being of great size, which became a well-known myth throughout the North American region; especially in the arctic region. Although there are no official records of this creature, some claim to have encountered it in the snowy mountains.

big foot

They describe them with a physical appearance similar to that of an ape and with a stature that exceeds two meters in height. In fact, because people who claim to have seen a bigfoot have done so at night, it is believed to be a nocturnal creature.

The white lady

Generally in North American mythology she is called “White lady”; she is a female ghost protagonist of many legends in North American culture. The common feature in her stories is that her existence is a consequence of a tragedy in her marriage.

Either because she committed suicide on her wedding day, or she died in different circumstances during this celebration. It is a spirit that always appears with a melancholic sense in different areas of North America.


The myths and legends that make up the North American Mythology are full of spiritual symbolism that are expressed through their traditions, dances, music and dance. As well as in the different cultures of the tribes that belong to this culture.

The North American Mythology ranges from Aztec mythology to Eskimo mythology. All the territories of the countries that today make up Mexico, the United States and Canada. All with different cultures and religions, but with a common trait in their mythology: a sense of animism and totemism in common.

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