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Native American Beliefs
in the Little People or Fairies
Updated on June 5, 2014
Belief in Fairies Spans Cultures
So when we hear stories
and older legends about faeries, fairies, or the "wee folk",
many of us usually get the picture of green pastures in Ireland
or maybe the highlands of Scotland. How many people actually
think of the fairies being residents of the Americas? Did you
know that many (if not most) of the Native American tribes,
in both the United States and Canada, had their own beliefs
in fairies? They mainly called them "little people",
and each tribe had their own beliefs about these little people
(or what many of us refer to as fairies).
I was surprised to learn that Native
Americans also believed in fairies, and then again not so surprised.
It seems that almost every culture has their own version of
fairies or "little people"...and with the Native Americans
being so in tune with nature, why would their beliefs be any
different from the ancient Celts and other Europeans?
Faeries in North America can be found
in the highest boughs of the oldest trees...Source: Victorian-Ozark
Crescent Mural via CC
The Little Person Mummy
There is a mystery surrounding
a "little mummy" that was discovered back in the 1930s
in the San Pedro Mountains. It was speculated to have been a
tiny race of humans that lived in caves within the mountains,
as the little mummy was discovered in a cave. This little mummy
was sitting upright and had a flattened skull. It also had very
tan skin and sat about 7 " tall, and so if it stood up
it would have been a little over a foot tall!
Could this little mummy have been
proof of the "little people" so greatly believed in
by the Native Americans? Unfortunately the little mummy has
disappeared since its discovery, so no further testing has been
done on it since the 1950s. Most scientists who have studied
the photographs taken claim that it is simply the mummy of a
anencephalic fetus. But the question was posed as to why would
the little mummy have a full set of adult teeth?
If someone was to turn this little
mummy into science, would we find that there was such a thing
as the "little people"...could they have been related
to the many legends of the wee folk and faeries from the European
continent across the Atlantic Ocean?
Beliefs of Little People in the
If you watch the documentary
"The Fairy Faith", there is a Native American tribe
in Canada called the Eskasoni who have their many legends of
the Little People. There is one particular hill in Nova Scotia
where the Eskasoni claim the little people have lived for centuries.
Many of the townsfolk warn their children from going to this
mountain for fear that the little people will take them
away. Stories of the Eskasoni people coming in contact or encountering
these little people can be seen in The Fairy Faith. They are
truly remarkable stories.
The Shoshone tribe in the United
States have their own name for the legendary little people,
the Nimerigar. The Nimerigar were a race of little people who
lived in the Rocky Mountains, specifically in the Pedro Mountains
and were also thought to live near the Wind River. The Shoshone
believed that these little people were actually quite protective
of their homes and would use bows & arrows as weapons...of
course they were poisoned arrows. The little mummy found in
the San Pedro Mountains is actually theorized to have been one
of the Nimerigar that the Shoshone tribe so strongly believed
in for many years.
All the way on an island range in
the Pacific, in our beautiful state of Hawaii, the Native Hawaiians
also had their belief in a fairy race or "little people"
that they referred to as the Menehune. Again, in very similar
beliefs when compared to the Shoshone's Nimerigar and the Eskasoni's
little people, the Menehune of Hawaii were thought to live in
untouched forests and mountains of the Hawaiian islands. Legend
has it that they were the main residents of the Hawaiian islands
before Polynesian people came to reside there. They were also
thought to have built the Menehune fishpond in Niumalu and also
the Kikiaola ditch near Waimea.
Now the Choctaw Natives also believed
in the little people and called them the Kwanokasha. They were
generally quite afraid of these little people, but there was
a legend that told of the Kwanokasha carrying away little boys
to their caves in order to test their spirit. Three wisemen
would be waiting at the cave for the kwanokasha and the little
Choctaw boy and they would present the boy with three things
- a knife, a bag of poisonous herbs, and a bag of healing herbs.
If the boy chose the knife, he would be destined to be a killer.
If he chose the bag of poisonous herbs, he would only provide
bad medicine to his people. But if he chose the bag of good
healing herbs, he would be a very powerful medicine man to his
people. Just like the Hawaiians and Shoshone, the Choctaw also
believed that the little people lived in caves. The Kwanokasha
were thought to be between one and two feet tall.
There were three kinds of little
people to the Cherokee tribe - the Laurels, the Rocks, and the
Dogwoods. The Rock People were the malicious ones, stealing
children and wreaking havoc all because they feel their space
has been invaded. The Laurel People are friendly but also mischievous
and like to play common tricks on us (the bigger people). They
say that the Laurel people will tangle your fishing line with
a stick and make you think it is a huge fish, only for you to
reel it in and see it is a tiny stick...they want to make you
laugh and keep you young-at-heart, just as they are. And as
for the Dogwood people, it is said that they are good-hearted
and enjoy taking care of us when they can. Some even relate
the Dogwood people to the Scottish "brownies".
The Crow believed in little people
that they called the Nirumbee. They were thought to have lived
in the Pryor Mountains and have also been thought to have given
visions to Plenty Coups (an early twentieth century Crow chief).
The little people are even accredited with keeping the Crow
people safe and together, according to some Crow Natives, because
of the vision that the little people gave the Crow chief Plenty
Coups. It is said by some members of the Crow that even
to this day if they pass through the Pryor Gap, they will leave
offerings to the Little People in remembrance of their aid to
the Crow nation.
There are many more legends of the
Little People told by dozens of Native American tribes. Many
of them are very intriguing and include stories of how the Little
People came to the Natives aid in times of great need. Much
of the time the Little People were feared, as they were unpredictable
and mysterious to the Native Americans, and most of the legends
(if not all) tell stories of these Little People looking similar
and acting similar.
In my opinion, how can we discredit
all of these cultures and peoples' legends and merely brush
off the idea of these "little people's" existence?
Maybe the fairies of Ireland and various places in Europe were
simply a type of little people as the Native Americans believed.
Maybe they weren't fairies at all, but actual people who were
quite small and well-knowledged in the areas of magick and healing.
Whatever these little people actually
are will probably never be known, but one thing is for sure...there
are too many legends and beliefs in these little people to ignore
the possibility of their existence.
A Fairy Melting Pot
It is my belief and understanding
of the fairies in North America that there were fairies here
before the White Man came, and those are the little people that
the Natives speak of in legend. But I also believe that when
the White Man came over from Europe and other places, he brought
with him some of the house/home and garden fairies from his
native land. Some of these fairies that were brought over to
North America from elsewhere could have included the Scottish
Brownie, the Pixies, the Gnomes and many more.
This has created a melting pot of
fairies in North America, very similar to how the people have
evolved on this continent. We have a melting pot of cultures,
and so we therefore have a melting pot of the faerie realm,
Read More About Fairies: * Real Fairy
Pictures: The Cottingley Fairies & Other Photos of Real
Fairies For centuries, maybe even millennia, people all across
the world have believed and seen the "wee folk" or
what are more commonly referred to as fairies. Some have even
claimed to have captured two particular types of fairies - pixies
and gnomes on fi * More Real Fairy Pictures & Stories: Do
You Believe in Faeries? When I was a child, I daydreamed of
meeting fairies, and I always knew that their existence wasn't
just a "fairy tale" but that they were spirits just
as any other spirits in the world (ghosts, angels, demons, etc.).
Now that I've grown up, I've come * Could Fairies Have Bred
with Humans? The question and theory is: Is it possible that
fairies have bred with humans?
Modern Real Fairy Encounters in
So what about in today's
day and age, have the little people of the Native American beliefs
disappeared? Many people, both Native and new to this continent,
have had encounters with these "little people" or
what many call faeries or fairies. I am one of those people.
Even in my suburban home in the Tampa Bay area in Florida, I
have had three experiences with the "little people"
or faeries. And I believe in them, to say the least. You can
read more about my experiences in the links below.
I don't truly consider my real fairy
encounters as significant as others' when I compare them.
My most favorite fairy encounter
story is told by the women in the second video I've posted above
(Fairy Faith Part 6). While a mother and her children were picnicking
in the forest one day, the mother began hearing sounds of a
very strange magnitude. It sounded unlike any music she had
ever heard in her entire life, and she thought it was utterly
strange especially because she hadn't seen anyone in the area
and no one lived in that area of the woods. The music got louder
and closer and the mother asked her children if they heard it
too...they said they did. The mother didn't want to stick around
to see what was making the strange, enchanting music and so
she gathered her children and left. The little girl, who is
now a grown woman, admits that she saw something even stranger
than the sound of the music that day. As their car was driving
away from the site of the experience, she looked back (even
though her mother told her not to) and she saw a circle of little
people, all dancing together and looking quite merry! She didn't
tell anyone for years for fear that no one would believe her
or that it would be bad luck to tell others about her fairy
encounter. You can watch her tell her story in the video above.
Another story told to be by a woman
here on hubpages is that of a woman when she was a little girl.
The little girl and her sister awakened one morning to see a
tiny group of faeries dancing on their toy shelf on the wall.
They were tiny, with wings, and seemed to be quite friendly
and happy. To this day the woman swears that fairies indeed
Are the fairies with wings related
to the little people of Native American legend or are they two
separate beings entirely? Do the little people of Native American
legend actually have some sort of ties with human beings or
are they otherworldly beings? We might never find the answers
to these questions, but if you ask me...that is good. Why ruin
a good thing? If we were to find a living little person of Native
American legend or a living fairy, society and the world would
simply experiment and exploit it until the magick was gone.
So for now, the idea of fairies and
little people will remain alive in my imagination and in my
reality, too. I don't need science to prove or disprove their
Written and copyright © KittytheDreamer
(May Canfield), 2013. All Rights Reserved.
Copyright: Cinnamon Moon & River WildFire Moon (Founders.)
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