Published on December 5, 2012 by Casey
Grouse are rarely referred to directly in older recordings of Native American legends. This is probably because the English and early American people who translated their words became confused and identified the birds as “partridge” instead. Partridge are not native to North America and were not introduced here until the early 1900′s, so it’s likely that most of these stories were in fact referring to grouse or quail, types of birds which are common in North America. In particular, one of our Mi’kmaq volunteers identified the Mi’kmaq hero Pulowech (usually translated as “Partridge”) as actually being a ruffed grouse, and the name of the Passamaquoddy character Mitchihess (also called a “partridge”) probably comes from the Passamaquoddy word for “grouse,” Mochiyehs.
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Grouse are also used as clan animals in some Native American cultures. Tribes with Grouse Clans include the Chippewa tribe (whose Grouse Clan and its totem are called Aagask) and the Prairie Chicken clans of the Mandan and Hidatsa.