Mountain Lion Culture

Animals have always had a profound impact on our culture and imagination. Worldwide, there have been many a sports teams named after powerful predators like mountain lions, jaguars and bears – perhaps in reverence of their strength and agility. In Peruvian Quechua, puma, another name for mountain lion, translates to “powerful animal.” A name such as this suggests a deep respect for this stealthy cat.

Mountain lions, found throughout Nevada, have a rich history in Native American culture. According to one Navajo legend, the mountain lion saves the life of a hero after he is critically wounded by a witch. The Navajo also believed that living with these wild cats was a boon to the tribe because they would leave behind a portion of their kills for the people to eat. Other cultures believed that mountain lions possessed magical and medicinal powers! Aztec physicians, for instance, would often prescribe pricking the chest of an ill or injured tribesman in hopes of warding off death.

Other cultures, however, feared the mountain lion. In Arizona, the Apaches and Hualapais regarded the wailing of a mountain lion as an omen of death, while others believed them to be fleshing-eating monsters.

When you think of a mountain lion, what kind of thoughts does it conjure in your mind? Having evolved roughly 5 – 9 million years ago, the puma has been around for as long as humans can remember. Their presence is woven into the very fabric of our existence and culture.

Denise Peterson

Leave a Reply Text

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *