Check out ancient Native American songs and tribal dances and you’ll likely find timber wolves. Likewise, they can be found in ancient stories, which have been passed down throughout the years—always as a symbol of strength and admiration. Predominant in all aspects of Native American culture, the timber wolf has long been revered.

Their presence is felt in other cultures as well. In fairytales and fables alike, timber wolves are depicted as bad, as evil, as something to be feared. Why then, is this animal so sacred to the Native American culture?

If you come across Native American artifacts, jewelry, art, etc. you’ll notice a significant amount of these items feature the timber wolf. While the Native Americans hold this animal in esteem, many cultures fear it. This actually dates back to the earliest of days, when the settlers of the New World came into contact with Native Americans for the first time. They slaughtered timber wolves, blaming them for ravaging livestock and game, lowering the food supply. Of course we know now that it was not the wolves messing things up, it was the settlers. With them came a steady imbalance to the harmony the Native Americans  had created.

But timber wolves actually play an integral part in our ecosystem. They taught Native Americans to hunt and forage for food, and, thought their own packs, demonstrated the importance of family. For some tribes and individuals, the wolves even represented a mythical creature of sorts, able to illicit magical powers.

Though timber wolves are not commonly seen as they were years ago, environmental workers and the government are working together to protect these revered creatures, in the hopes that they can one day be released back into their native homeland, able to roam free as they have for thousands of years.

Joseph Paige © 2006

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