Passerine Birds in the Stories and Knowledge Traditions of American indigenous Peoples

Date and Time: 
Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 11:00
, Raymond - University of Kansas
, Nimachia

Birds discussed as important in cultural traditions of Indigenous American peoples, include Eagles, Ravens, Owls, and mythic Thunder Birds. Many passerine birds were important companions and components of the ecology of the places where these peoples lived. We discuss how various Corvids, (Ravens, Crows, Jays, Magpies), and other passerines are identified as having special roles as trickster figures and important teachers.  Such stories include how grassland sparrows are one of the few species able to trick the trickster, Coyote, to Canada (or Gray) Jays serving as trickster/Creator of the Woodland Cree people, Wisakyjak. Magpies won the Great Race around the Black Hills to determine whether humans would eat bison or vice versa, and Mockingbirds teaching humans to speak. Although not considered charismatic megafauna, Passerines are known for their attraction to human activities and are open in their communication styles, so that humans felt they could directly communicate with these birds.