People from all around the globe, irrespective of their religion, cultures, and traditions, have one thing in common: the belief in mystical and supernatural beings. The Native Americans are no different. Quite a few believe in folk tales and legends of fairies or ‘little people’ across the North American continent. Many have reported encounters with magical creatures, while others say that it is best to leave them alone. Let’s dive deeper into this ancient sea of mysteries.
The Native Hawaiians believe in the Menehune, who are more like dwarves than fairies. They are said to live in forests and hidden valleys, staying far away from human settlements. According to lore, they were highly skilled builders and master craftsmen. It is believed that they built houses, roads, temples, and canoes. The Menehune worked in the dark of the night so that no one would see them, and if they were discovered, they would abandon that work. These creatures wandered in the deep forests at night and were said to be two feet tall, while some were as small as six inches. They enjoyed archery, singing, and dancing and loved to eat bananas and fish. They were known to use magical arrows that would pierce the heart of angry men, igniting feelings of love.
The Natives believe that the Menehune settled in Hawaii long before the Polynesians. One scholar argues that there is no mention of this creature in pre-contact mythology. Some argue that the Menehune are not dwarves or fairies but ordinary humans who were forced to settle in the mountainous regions of Hawaii by the Tahitians.
Legend has it that the Shoshone Tribe believed in a small and violent race of cannibals who would eat other humans that they killed with poisoned arrows. In the Shoshone language, Nimerigar means ‘people eaters,’ which perfectly describes this vicious race. Historical accounts from the missionary Zeisberger also pointed out the existence of these little people. He wrote of a burial ground that reportedly had abundant remains of the pygmy race, around three feet in height. The graves were arranged so that their heads faced the west, which led them to deduce that the race of people were sun-worshippers. These burial grounds have ceased from existence due to extensive farming and modern inhabitation of the land.
The Crow Tribe of Native America believed in the little people called Nirumbee. Folklore says that the ‘little people’ lived in the Pryor Mountains in Montana, and these demon-like creatures made the petroglyphs on rocks in the mountains. They are said to be only eighteen inches tall. However, some tribes describe them differently as having incredibly strong and short arms and legs, with little or no neck. Believed to be incredibly strong warriors, they survived primarily on meat and had sharp, canine-like teeth. Tribes tell stories of how these people tore the hearts out of their enemies’ horses.
It is believed that the ‘little people of The Pryor Mountains would steal children, medicine, food, and tobacco. If someone played a trick on the Nirumbee, he would have to face their wrath, which would end up destroying him and his family. They are also known to confer blessings or spiritual insight to tribe members; the Crow Chief Plenty Coups claims that a vision for this magical creature helped him to keep his people safe through hardships in the early 20th century. Some tribesmen still leave the Nirumbee small gifts as they pass through the Pryor Mountains.
The Little Person Mummy
In the 1930s, a ‘little mummy’ was discovered in the San Pedro Mountains in Wyoming. Since it was found in a cave, people thought that there once existed a small race of cave-dwelling humans. Due to its strange physical features and tiny stature, it has become part of American folklore. The mummy was discovered sitting in an upright position and had a flat skull. His height indicated that he would have been only a foot tall.
The first mummy was examined using X-rays which indicated that the body belonged to an anencephalic infant whose cranial deformity made it appear as a miniature adult. The second mummy that was examined showed the same results. DNA testing proved that the mummy was, in fact, Native American, and radiocarbon dating dated it all the way back to the 1700. The little mummy remains a mystery to date. Whether it was a baby, a hoax, or a fairy, no one knows.
The Choctaw legend says that supernatural beings or spirits lived near them in Mississippi several years ago. These spirits were known as Kowi Anukasha or ‘Forest Dwellers.’ These two-foot-tall creatures lived deep in the forest and built their homes in caves hidden under large rocks. Legend says that when a boy is little and wanders away from home, the Kwanokasha would seize the boy and take him to his cave. His cave would be far away from human settlements most of the time, and the two would travel a long way, climbing hills and crossing streams.
Once they reach the inside of the cave, they are met with three other old spirits. The first one would offer the boy a knife, the second one would offer a bunch of poisonous herbs, and the third would offer a bunch of herbs yielding good medicine. If the child accepts the good herbs, he is destined to become a good doctor and an influential man of his tribe. The three old spirits would tell him the secrets of medicine-making from barks, roots, and herbs, along with treating various illnesses like fever and pains.
The Native Americans have added more stories and myths to their rich culture and folklore through the years. While scientists and people have validated some stories, others remain a mystery. From hearing strange fairy music in the forest to seeing small people dancing in a circle in the woods, fairy sightings indicate the existence of mystical and supernatural creatures living among us.