Before the advent of the European, hundreds of tribal groups lived in the forests, mountains, plains and deserts of North America. For these Indians, stories were more than mere entertainment. They were an essential part of a culture based upon a common understanding of mankind's place in nature. As such, the mythology was inseparable from the ceremonies and beliefs of the tribes. For many groups, dancers donned masks to represent spirits and gods thereby assuming the spiritual strengths associated with them. Many stories tell of a time before the earth had assumed its present form and before the coming of the tribes when animals were humans too. Totemism was prevalent and so too was the belief that animals were better equipped by nature and cunning to survive in the wild than man. It was believed that animals shared their spirit, being at once animal and human, so that they retained the ability to assume human form. Animals had souls, spirits and supernatural powers. Mankind was a latecomer and was different. But man could be helped by the animals if they chose and wild animals loom large in North American mythology which includes a menagerie of animal like gods, from birds to serpents, bears and coyotes. This book presents a balanced account of the best of the surviving narrative traditions and presents a fascinating history of the tribes, their culture and their beliefs. Included are stories from the Algonquin, Iroquois, Sioux, Pawnee and other tribal groups. Spece includes a glossary to guide the reader through the tales, his text generously supplemented with illustrations.