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The Frog In Native American Mythology


Excerpts from the Text

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Frog Symbolism & Weaving

"Repeatedly in these tales, the frog (or a water demon with frog-like characteristics0 was depicted as the guardian of all the fresh water in the springs and wetlands of the world. Often the frog was called Frog Woman. When all was going well, she was honored and respected. But in times of severe drought, Frog Woman (or her male counterpart) was demonized and coyote, or some other cultural hero, challenged her."

"In almost all of these tales, however, the hero could no get the Frog (as the water monster) to move, i.e. he could neither displace her physically nor emotionally. She remained unsympathetic and immobile, in spite of the hero's plea for mercy.

Eventually the hero discovered that Frog held the fresh waters back by weaving, either a basket or a dam. He saved humans from dying of thirst by destroying the basket or dam, or in some cases by stabbing the demon's bloated stomach which substituted symbolically for a dam. In a number of tales, coyote stole the fresh waters by drinking large amounts of water. Soon he became equally bloated and was released from his self-inflicted suffering only after someone else bursts his stomach.

With the destruction of the dam, the impounded fresh waters were released in a flood. The rushing waves carve out a new landscape and also dispersed a plethora of wetland animals which thereafter became food for humans. In their fecundity, the impounded waters were thus similar to the European Cornucopia the horn of plenty which fed the world and brought joy to both the gods and humanity" (page 26).

The Frog and the North Star

"In native American myth the Frog is not the only important supernatural water guardian. The Snake, for example, is often depicted as the ruler of waters and seasonal flooding. The Eagle is the ruler of the thunderstorm, which brings rain waters down to Mother Earth. And various ocean animals serve s the ruler of the salt waters. All of these mythological figures have water affiliations.

"But the Frog remains the preeminent native American symbol celebrating the fecundity of quiet wetlands. And in this role she is also associated with human pregnancy whereby the female impounds fertile waters in the womb. When the water sack bursts,t he rushing waters precede the birthing of the child, thereby reenacting the mythic events celebrated in Frog tales.

The mythic age comes to an end with the transformation of the landscape, the changing of the First people into the food animals of the modern world. Yet, after all these events the Frog dwells in the backwaters, sitting on a log or lily pad and catching her food with her long tongue without moving her body. She thus demonstrates her supernatural association with the non-moving North Star, which teaches the virtues of humility and patience" (page 26).

The full text of When Frog Stole the Waters is available for reading and free download at:

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