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In my story I'm setting up a cold war between a faction of Fae and the Native American equivalent. The Fae are your typical Unseelie Court where one should watch their words or get bamboozled.

The Native American creatures, I assume are not that, but I've been having difficulty finding examples from any tribe. I did find the Nûñnë'hï, which is Cherokee and sounds like a benevolent version of European Fae. For my story, the Native American faction is more akin to the Iroquois Confederacy, forming as a necessity against these Fae aggressors.

Ultimately it's my goal to have several tribal examples, particularly Plains and Southern/Eastern tribes. But Google is not really bringing up other examples of this kind of creature. I've seen several "lesser" beings (ie goblins, brownies, or pixies compared to a Faerie), but nothing else really. Another goal is to be accurate and appropriate to Native culture. These aren't my stories and I would like to come at this respectfully.

So what are some Native American supernatural creatures? Preferably creatures will have the following traits:

  • Sapience/Sentience
  • No singular/few instances (ruling out creatures like Bigfoot/Wendigos)
  • Some form of society (Fae have their courts and are into power plays. These creatures probably don't, but should have just as strong of desires/ambitions)
  • Humanoid in appearance is not needed (bonus points if they're not because that's out of the ordinary)
  • No outright hostility towards humans (hesitant tolerance and exploitation are fine) This rules out creatures like the Nirumbee or Nimerigar who straight up attack humans.
  • Where they reside (e.g. The Nûñnë'hï live underground on mountain tops)
  • A note on what tribe they're from (not picky, just handy for future research)
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    $\begingroup$ +1 for seeking resources in order to do respectful, ethical storytelling based on real cultures, and for providing your current research and a specific problem. $\endgroup$ – Zxyrra Jan 29 at 21:59
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure this is a Worldbuilding question, given that this seems to be asking for accurate historical information about a real-world civilization. $\endgroup$ – Halfthawed Jan 30 at 0:49
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    $\begingroup$ @Halfthawed that information will be used to build a world (and one that is culturally sensitive, so I wish we could reward questions with bounties as we do to answers). $\endgroup$ – Renan Jan 30 at 2:06
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    $\begingroup$ I tend to agree with @Halfthawed, this seems like a question better suited for the anthropology tag in the History StackExchange, since the world building intent is incidental to the question. history.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/anthropology $\endgroup$ – Nathan Griffiths Jan 30 at 2:08
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    $\begingroup$ This would be better suited to mythology.stackexchange.com $\endgroup$ – rek Jan 30 at 5:21
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Honestly, a lot of creatures in various Native American traditions show similarities to the fair folk. As this page mentions a lot of beings that are often described as monsters, giants or spirits in anthropological texts and anthologies of folklore show more similarities to the fair folk than actual monsters or spirits, and only got classified as such due to the Victorian mindset in place when they were first heard by outsiders. Western European culture in general used to have a hard time dealing with the concept of non-human beings who were as morally varied as humanity (the same issue causes the Japanese concept of yokai to be translated as "demon" when in actuality fair folk, again, would be a more accurate descriptor). That said, you did have the fair folk in Celtic folklore (and was probably a lot more widespread before the Romans happened), the jotun and dwarves in Norse mythology, and the various beings in Greek mythology. A lot of this is thought to come from the adoption of Christianity, as its parent religion Judaism is unusaul in having a very black-and-white view of morality when it comes to non-humans (Islam is a little different in having morally ambiguous djinn, the result of folding pre-Abrahamic Arabic folklore into their worldview).

Now, for more specific examples the link cited mentions the ircinrraat (singular: ircinrraq) of the Inuit, which seem very fair folk-like in that they can be both helpful or harmful and mindbogglingly hard to understand. I fully admit TvTropes is not an accurate source for anything but perhaps it can provide an avenue for further research.

The thunderbirds of various cultures (Algonquin, Lakota Sioux, Ojibwe, Winnebago) might also fit. They're sapient, there are usually treated as a species, they usually live up high in the mountains or in some sky realm. They're usually pretty aloof to humans but will mess you up if you mess with them, or in some stories if you break morals. However at the same time they're beneficial to humans because they smite various monsters that threaten humanity, and sometimes they even go out of their way to help people. That said, they're not humanoid.

The Kushtaka of the Tlingit (northwestern Pacific coast) are another possible one. Different stories have them as either tricking humans to their deaths or saving humans, sometimes by turning them into Kushtaka. zhey are shape-shifters that usually turn into otters, but have a human form.

There are a number of "little people" myths in various cultures, each with their own name. These stories are kind of what you'd expect from the various "little people" myths in every culture around the world: sapient, humanoid, can either be malicious tricksters or helpful, usually pretty benign. The Wikipedia page gives a lot of names.

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I found something that might be useful. It would be the Navajo Folklore or Mythology.

You might have to do some dig some for more details, but a great bit of information can be found here at Sacred-texts website

The Navajo are a large tribe of Native Americans that come from New Mexico and Arizona. They have a pretty complicated mythology, but there are some cool stories and characters in there.

I found an interesting parallel with some of the more well known "fae based" folklore. Mainly that the fae lived in a world that was connected to our own. The Navajo have something similar. They believe that there are four worlds beneath the one we live in, Each with distinct properties. There are peoples within each and First Man and First Woman, along with Coyote came up through each successive world. They seem to be able to travel between worlds.

In some folklores, you have a lot of animals that are intelligent along with races that combine human and specific animal traits. The Navajo also have this in their folklore. Coyote is the most notable of these Characters, but the Bear is another, the Badger, the Locust, are also animals that exhibit Human traits.

One of the races mentioned are the Spider Ant people, who know the ways of arrows but are peaceful if left alone. That is just one of entire races mentioned. There are more.

There are a wealth of Monsters in the folklore, as well as heroes that slay them (the Monster Slayer brothers, I think)

A lot of this folk lore has some crossover with the Zuni and Hopi tribes that also dwell in the area. Could be some good source information for creating a plausible and respectful Native American fae equivalent.

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    $\begingroup$ I've read somewhere (Wikipedia, I believe) that the Navajo are pretty closed off when discussing folklore with non-native people. While there's a wealth of stories to go off of, (I've even somewhat used the Four worlds in my setting myself), it seems that I shouldn't use their folklore. $\endgroup$ – Lux Claridge Jan 30 at 21:20
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    $\begingroup$ They are, somewhat. I knew a few when I lived in New Mexico. Some of the things like the Coyote Stories seem much more like entertainment, and I might think of them as fair game. Some of the creation stories may be wrapped up in some of the chants, or ways, sung by the hatalii along with sand paintings and the like. Not sure where the line of disrespect would be. Fairly sure tales of skinwalkers would be right out, but some of the Animal stories and monster stories might be ok $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI -Monica come Home Jan 30 at 22:11
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    $\begingroup$ @LuxClaridge I think it's cool you are wanting to remain respectful. If I remember right, the Author Tony Hillerman was given awards by the Navajo Tribe and he depicted a lot of the culture in his novels. They are detective novels and really good. Might be a good resource and benchmarks for what is respectful. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI -Monica come Home Jan 30 at 22:33
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    $\begingroup$ @LuxClaridge Most of the American Southwest cultures are pretty closed off about sharing their traditions with outsiders after what Frank Hamilton Cushing did to the Zuni. I can't say I blame them for feeling that way given how he abused the Zuni's trust. I have no idea how Tony Hillerman got praised given the stuff he put in his novels. $\endgroup$ – user2352714 Jan 31 at 0:15
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    $\begingroup$ @user2352714 I've read most of the Hillerman Novels, though it was a long time ago. As I recall, He never depicted the religion as weird or strange. It was just a part of the spiritual life of his characters. One of the main characters was Jim Chee, a tribal policeman with aspirations of becoming a hatalii. Hillerman took this kind of stuff seriously. Anything that was negative he was pretty good at showing it as a human failing, not a problem with the characters faith. $\endgroup$ – Paul TIKI -Monica come Home Jan 31 at 14:42

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