Native American Tales

Origin of the Gnawing Beaver

Origin of the Gnawing BeaverOrigin of the Gnawing Beaver


A great hunter observed all the hunting rituals and was always successful, but after a time, he decided to marry. He married a woman from a nearby village and moved to an area where the game was plentiful. He and his wife would both observe the rituals to be observed before a hunt. They always had lots of game.

The man decided to go away to hunt. He was a bit worried to leave his wife, but she was fine. The wife would play and swim in a pool by the steam while he was gone. He game back and went away for a longer time. She built a dam to make her little pool bigger so she could swim more. She soon built a little house of mud and branches in the middle of her lake. She would rest in it when she was done swimming, but go into her house at night.

Her husband came and went hunting again. She enlarged her lake and her little house. She was also pregnant and kept more to herself. She stayed at the lake all the time now. When her husband came back, he couldn’t find her. He was sad, but he remembered that she had liked the lake. He called to her outside of the lake. What he saw was a strange creature with two small creatures exactly like it.

The creature spoke to him and said it was his wife and these were his children. She and her children had returned to the lake. The man should use the beaver as his crest. The man left the place, but did use the beaver as his crest.


This story reminds me a lot of stories about mermaids. Sometimes they would be women who would come on dry land for a while. They would marry. They would have children, but then they would go back to the ocean. They would go back to being mermaids and the man would be alone.


Beavers are industrious, I know, I used to own some property and there were a few in the creek that could build a dam back in a day. This certainly makes this woman very industrious. She went out and built a lake for crying out loud, that’s pretty impressive.

This is the origin of a particular crest. The crest is of a beaver gnawing on sticks. I’m not sure of the importance of this particular crest, but it was important enough that someone told a story about it.

Maybe no one in this particular tribe had seen a beaver before the point that this crest was made. It’s possible. I never saw the little devils that kept damming up my creek. Spotting a strange animal could certainly inspire a crest.

I still think it’s kind of sad that the woman left her husband, especially when they seemed to get along pretty well.


This story just makes me kind of sad.

Weigh In

If you saw a strange animals, would you make it your personal logo?

How do you think the husband felt about all of this?


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