Native American Mythology (Myths and Legends of the World)
The Native American or Indian peoples of North America do not share a single, unified body of mythology. The many different tribal groups each developed their own stories about the creation of the world, the appearance of the first people, the place of humans in the universe, and the lives and deeds of and heroes. Yet despite the immense variety of Native American mythologies, certain mythic themes, characters, and stories can be found in many of the cultures. Underlying all the myths is the idea that spiritual forces can be sensed through the natural worldncluding clouds, winds, plants, and animalshat they shape and sustain. Many stories explain how the actions of gods, heroes, and ancestors gave the earth its present form.
Background and Sources
According to the mythologies of most Native American cultures, their people originated in the places where their ancestors traditionally lived. Some tales speak of ancient migrations. However, Native Americans are descended from hunting and gathering peoples of northeastern Asia who traveled across the Bering Sea into North America during the most recent Ice Age. During that Ice Age, which ended around 8000 B.C., the level of the oceans was much lower, and a bridge of land linked Siberia and Alaska. Some groups may also have reached Alaska from Siberia by boat or by walking on ice....
(The entire section is 3164 words.)
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