Sierra Club Wildlife Library
“Alert to movement and sounds of prey.”
WOLVES photo (c) Terry Willis.

For centuries, there have been frightening legends about wolves. Until fairly recently, people even believed in werewolves ~ humans that changed into wolves and attacked people. Such myths came from imaginative humans who feared wolves and saw them as powerful enemies.

Professor Lupin of Harry Potter transforming into a Werewolf. (c)Warner Bros.

Unlike Europeans, who hated wolves and were afraid of them, the native people of North America respected these animals. The Pawnees of Kansas and Nebraska, who named the stars after the animals with whom they shared the environment, called a star The Wolf.

First Nations’ Astronomy (c) Atima Atchakosuk: the dog stars with Polaris, Mihkun and Atchakos, the wolf star.

The Cree of Canada called the wolf Mak-eh-coon and believed that heavenly wolves visited the earth when the Northern Lights shone in winter.

(c) 2021 The New Fly Fisher

Many Native Americans named themselves after the wolf, not just because they admired the animal, but also because they were impressed by its strength, courage, and ability to hunt, and by the close family ties that exist among wolf packs. Many also believe that wolves howl after they have eaten their fill to invite ravens, gray jays, chickadees, mice, foxes, and coyotes to come and share their food.

Indian medicine men often prayed to the wolf when they were curing a patient, sometimes howling, at other times calling directly to the wolf, asking his spirit to enter the sick person and to give him or her the strength to fight the evil spirits that had taken charge of the body.

Though this painting, Young Wolf, by John Nieto, (1936-2018), does not appear in the book, WOLVES, it is evocative of Indigenous people’s beliefs of transcendence and healing.

We are gradually coming to understand that predators, such as wolves, have an essential role in the conservation of the natural word. Biologists have learned to study them in their natural habitat, and in some cases, have been able to watch them for long periods of time. As a result, the old myths and fears about wolves are dying. Wolves deserve to live undisturbed and we should ensure that they will.

Dorothy Siemens’ informative illustrations help communicate the science of WOLVES. Meanwhile, the book’s back cover speaks to R.D. Lawrence’s worthy appeal to educators and young readers.

“WOLVES” [Sierra Club Wildlife Library] (c) 1990 by R.D. Lawrence ISBN 0-316-51676-7

WOLVES Illustrations (c) 1990 by Dorothy Siemens

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