by Gerald Musinsky
The spiritual belief throughout Native America regards all living things as having a "spirit" that early ethnographers correlated with the Judeo-Christian soul. Although "soul" is a close correspondent, the nature of animal spiritism is deeper in its cultural context. Animals in particular, along with weather and other elements of nature, possessed particular qualities of power and knowledge.
Other than nature tale-types, the lore behind the creatures carries a significance into Native American cosmology and metaphysical perceptions of their relationship to this world and other lives.