Passed down from generation to generation, the myths and rituals of Native Americans form a rich religious and cultural base from which all members of each society can create and maintain a sense of community, physical and emotional health, identity, family, and self. Such traditions, handeddown through stories and rites, stand as the lifeblood of every Native American culture.This thoroughly illustrated and carefully researched guide explores the amazing array of mythical beasts, heroic humans, and nurturing spirits that make up the fascinating spectrum of Native American mythology. With over one thousand alphabetically arranged entries, representing over one hundreddifferent Native American cultures, readers can quickly explore the meaning of hundreds of elements of Native lore--from names, phrases, and symbols, to images, motifs, and themes. Accompanying essays take a closer look at other issues related to the origin, development, and perpetuation of NativeAmerican mythology, such as the Christian influence on myth, varying mythology between tribes, storytelling, and more. We learn about such mythical creatures as Apotamkin of the Maliseet-Passamaquoddy tribe of the Southeast (a bogey monster with long hair and huge teeth who, through the fear hegenerates, keeps small children from straying onto thin, newly frozen ice in the winter and unguarded beaches in the summer), ritual healing ceremonials such as the Southwestern Navajo's Uglyway ceremony (a ceremony to remove and protect against the forces of chaos and disorder that give rise toillness), and the Marau ceremony of the Hopi Indians of the Southeast (a complex ceremony concerned with rain, the ripening of corn, and the fertility of women, as well as rites of initiating new members into the society). This compelling volume honors the richness of the beliefs and values of themany peoples of native North America, from northern Mexico to the Artic Circle. In addition, a complete bibliography of primary sources and secondary sources points the way to further research, making this the perfect reference for anyone interested in the mythical history of America's originalinhabitants.