Handbook of Native American Mythology

by Dawn E. Bastian and Judy K. Mitchell3


To some in the Lakota tribe, the 1994 birth of a rare white buffalo calf in Wisconsin was more than a biological anomaly—it was the long-prophesied return of their most revered deity, White Buffalo Woman, a harbinger of peace and good times. To others it was powerful proof of the hold myths can have on the people whose lives are molded around them.

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Cover image for Handbook of Native American Mythology

November 2004


Pages 297
Volumes 1
Size 7x10
Topics Mythology/General
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    Hardcover: £64.00/70,00€/A$107.00

Popular Hopi kachina dolls and awesome totem poles are but two of the aspects of the sophisticated, seldom-examined network of mythologies explored in this fascinating volume.

This revealing work introduces readers to the mythologies of Native Americans from the United States to the Arctic Circle—a rich, complex, and diverse body of lore, which remains less widely known than mythologies of other peoples and places.

In thematic chapters and encyclopedia-style entries, Handbook of Native American Mythology examines the characters and deities, rituals, sacred locations and objects, concepts, and stories that define and distinguish mythological cultures of various indigenous peoples. By tracing the traditions as far back as possible and following their evolution from generation to generation, Handbook of Native American Mythology offers a unique perspective on Native American history, culture, and values. It also shows how central these traditions are to contemporary Native American life, including the continuing struggle for land rights, economic parity, and repatriation of cultural property.


  • More than 40 photographs and illustrations portraying traditional customs and lifeways, antiquities, artwork (e.g., motifs, baskets, pottery, rugs, masks, totem poles), clothing and dress, and prominent places within traditional sacred geographies
  • Maps of Native American cultural areas and climates of North America, which are revealing because of the central role climate and weather play in a number of Native American myths


  • Provides the most comprehensive and accessible introduction to the mythological heritage of native North Americans available
  • Views Native American mythologies in their historical, social, and cultural context—how they emerged and the important role they played and continue to play in Native American life
  • Guides readers to key print, Internet, and audiovisual resources, including materials by Native Americans as well as other scholars in the field
Author Info

Dawn E. Bastian is coordinator for Bibliographic Control and Electronic Resource Services at Colorado State University, Fort Collins, CO. Her published works include the Zaire and Mali volumes in ABC-CLIO's World Bibliographical Series.

Judy K. Mitchell
is reference and instruction librarian at Hawkeye Community College, Waterloo, IA.

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