Native American Lore and the Science of Weather
by Carole G. Vogel
Weather plays a major role in the
lives of everyone. It impacts the clothes we wear, the food we eat, the homes we
live in, and our outdoor activities. And so it was for the Native Americans who
lived in North America long before European settlement.
Modern science provides us with
complex explanations for meteorological events and the tools for forecasting
weather. From simple equipment, such as weather vanes and rain gauges, to
satellites that track hurricanes from space, and Doppler radar that provides
early warning of tornadoes and flash floods, humanity has never been better
equipped to prepare for severe weather. We simply turn on the television or
check the Internet for the latest weather update.
In ancient times, these tools didn’t
exist. Native Americans viewed the events taking place in the sky as a blend of
physical and spiritual parts. The sun, wind, and clouds were believed to be
living entities with a spirit and personality of their own. Humans and animals
interacted with these and other spirit beings who inhabited the earth and sky.
The actions of individual humans or entire tribes sometimes had dire
consequences on the weather. Punishment for provoking spirits often came in the
form of floods, severe storms, or prolonged drought.
Weather Legends retells the native legends of murderous serpents, immense sky warriors, and kindly spirits beings, and how these entities are linked to the amazing dramas that take place in the sky overhead. The book also gives a brief summary of how scientists understand the meteorological forces that dominate the atmosphere and create the weather we experience.