Fairies in America: Fairy Folklore in the U.S. and Canada
The belief in fairies is a worldwide phenomenon. Enchanting stories of green elves, pixies, trolls, and sprites abound in countries like Ireland and Germany. We don’t hear many stories of Native American fairies or different types of fairies in America. But remember – fairies are everywhere! Because fairies are nature spirits, they’re typically seen in undisturbed, natural places. The Native Americans tell stories of encounters with the little people – how they helped children or taught shamans. The fairies in America can be territorial depending on the type. Come with me on a journey to find fairies in America.
Fairies in America: Green Elves & Pixies
Elves come from Scandinavian and Celtic mythology. According to the Prose Edda, there are two types of elves – light and dark. In America, the elves are earthly beings who are dressed in green. In A Witch’s Guide to Faery Folk, Edain McCoy refers to this kind as green elves. Green elves have green-tinted skin and sometimes wear green caps on their heads. The green elves in America are shorter in height and are encountered on the edges of forests and in graveyards. They’re similar to elves in Irish folklore. These beings live in the trees and so protect their home and surrounding wildlife. In Ireland, they are seen near ancient burial mounds, which could indicate their connection with the dead or confirm that “fairyland” is somewhere underground.
When I lived in Maryland in my teens, we had large trees on our property. One tree in particular always felt incredibly magical to me. One day we had a psychic visit the house and mentioned the “tiny winged fairies” flitting around this oak tree. My mom and I agreed that it was indeed a fairy tree. Because of this experience and other experiences with a grapefruit tree in my Florida backyard, I believe there are small, winged fairies like pixies in America as well as in Europe (and maybe worldwide!)
Household Fairies in America
It is possible that certain fairies traveled to America with our ancestors. The Brownie, a Scottish house fairy, is thought to have been brought to Canada and the U.S. with Scottish immigrants beginning in the seventeenth century. Tales are told online from various Americans of signs of brownies living in older Colonial homes. It’s not often they’re discovered living in a modern or newly constructed house – they like to stick to one family and most are attached to the first Scottish immigrant families that settled here. However, some Scottish American people claim to have attracted them into their homes using offerings and other tactics.
The Tomtra: Finnish House Fairy
The Tomtra is a house fairy that’s been brought to America by Finnish immigrants. Similar to the Brownie’s attachment to Scottish immigrant families, the tomtra is attached to the Finnish immigrants. If you are Finnish American or have Finnish blood, the tomtra may take up residence in your home. The difference between the tomtra and brownie is the tomtra is a bit more mischievous. He will protect your home from invaders, spiritual and physical, but he will also play tricks when he is bored or irritated. One American woman claims she’s had small objects like jewelry and pebbles thrown at her while in her bedroom.
Native North American Beliefs in Fairies
Menehune: Native Hawaiian Fairies
The Native Hawaiians have their own legends of little people called the Menehune. The Menehune were a small indigenous people who lived in Hawaii before the Tahitian people came to reside there. Hawaiian legend tells of these little people building some of the islands’ sacred places such as certain ponds and mounds. They were thought to live deep in the forests and valleys. Compare the Menehune to the Native American legends of little people – there are striking similarities. The Menehune were between six inches and two feet tall, according to legend, and despite their small stature were able to build entire structures over night.
Scholars believe the Menehune were the first people of Hawaii, present before the Tahitians, and were driven into the forests during the Tahitian invasion in 1100 AD. Were the Menehune small in stature or were they small in the eyes of the Tahitians? Some claim to see the Menehune, but often the sightings are discredited because they are children. In my opinion, children see fairies in America easier than adults because their minds are still fresh and open.
Little People in Nova Scotia
The Eskasoni tribe in Canada tell stories about the “little people.” There’s a hill in Nova Scotia where the Eskasoni claim the little people have lived for centuries. The townsfolk warn their children against going to the mountain, for fear the little people will take them away. Remarkable stories of the Eskasoni people encountering the “little people” or fairies are detailed in the documentary The Fairy Faith.
Choctaw Beliefs in Fairies
The Choctaw tribe believed in the little people and called them the Kwanokasha. The Kwanokasha were known to capture young men and take them on a quest. Three wisemen would wait at a cave opening for the Kwanokasha and the Choctaw boy and present the boy with three things: a knife, a bag of poisonous herbs, and a bag of healing herbs. If the boy chooses the knife, he was destined to be a killer. If he chooses the bag of poisonous herbs, he would provide bad medicine to his people. But, if he chooses the bag of good healing herbs, he would be a powerful medicine man. Just like the Hawaiians and the Shoshone, the Choctaw believed the little people lived in caves.
Shoshone and Cherokee Fairy Legends
Just as the Scottish and English have their fairy folklore, the Native Americans have theirs. The Shoshone tribe believed in a race of tiny people they called the Nimerigar. These tiny people lived in the Rocky Mountains and were aggressive to outsiders. If anyone came near their territory, they’d shoot poisoned-tip arrows at them. The San Pedro Mountain mummy called into question the legitimacy of the Shoshone’s fairy legends. This mummy was a small being discovered in the mountains in 1932. The mummy’s body disappeared in the 1950’s, so we might never know if it was a real fairy body or not.
The Cherokee tribe believed in three kinds of little people: the rock people, the laurel people, and the dogwood people. They each had their own temperaments and each taught the Cherokees different lessons. The rock people hurled rocks at anyone who got close, similar to the nimerigar of Shoshone legend. They were territorial and aggressive. The laurel people were mischievous and played tricks on people for fun comparable to many of the European fairy legends. The dogwood people were good-natured and known to help heal. There have been fairies in America for just as long as they’ve been in Europe.
The Crow Tribe’s Fairy Beliefs
The Crow believed in little people called the Nirumbee. The Nirumbee lived in the Pryor Mountains and gave visions to Plenty Coups an early twentieth century Crow chief. According to legend, the fairy-vision given to Plenty Coups kept the Crow people safe and united. The Crow say when they pass Pryor Gap they leave offerings to the little people.
Real Encounters with Fairies in America
Fairies in America don’t just live in legend and lore, they’ve shown themselves to lucky individuals. In the late 1800’s, an entire group of people saw fairies flying above Chimney Rock in North Carolina. It was documented by the nearest town’s scholars.
A Professor is Called On
In 1891, a professor was working in his North Carolina home when there was a knock at the door. A few children stood there and pleaded with the professor to come to the side of Chimney Rock. There were “people floating around on the side of the mountain”, the children claimed. The professor dismissed their story as a prank and sent them away. But then, a few minutes later, another knock. This time it wasn’t the mischievous children but an elderly woman from town. She also pleaded with him to come and see the “ghosties” on the side of Chimney Rock. At this point he decided he’d accompany the old woman to Chimney Rock to assure her there was no supernatural thing floating around on the side of the mountain.
A Real Fairy Sighting at Chimney Rock
The professor accompanied the woman to Chimney Rock and, to his amazement, saw what they had seen. There were dozens of bright beings flying around the side of the mountain…right there on the side of the mountain! He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. Was this real? These beings were bright and wearing white gowns, they looked like humans but were flying. There was dozens of these fairies, even appeared to be men, women, and children. More townspeople went that day to see the real fairies or little people, some in later years claiming they were angels, and the story lived on for years afterwards at Chimney Rock.
Strange Fairy Music
A mother and her children decided to have a picnic in the forest. While eating lunch, the family heard strange music playing close-by. It sounded unlike any music they’d ever heard and they found it particularly strange because there were no houses in the woods, nor had they seen any people nearby. The music got louder and began coming closer. The mother didn’t want to stick around to see what was making the music, so she gathered her children and left. The little girl, who is now a woman, didn’t just hear music that day – she saw small people dancing in a circle in the woods. She didn’t tell people for many years for fear they wouldn’t believe her.
Tiny Fairies on the Shelf
A little girl and her sister awoke one morning to see a tiny group of fairies dancing on their toy shelf. They were tiny, winged people and seemed to be friendly and happy. She woke up early every morning to try to see the fairies again, but neither her nor her sister ever saw them again. To this day, the woman swears fairies exist.
The Little Person Mummy
There is a mystery surrounding a “little mummy” discovered in the 1930’s in the San Pedro Mountains. Because the little mummy was discovered in a cave, people though there was once a tiny race of cave-dwelling humans there. The little mummy was sitting upright and had a flat skull. It had tan skin and sat about 7″ tall, so if it stood up it might have been a foot tall. Could the little mummy have been proof of the “little people” or fairies described by Native Americans? Unfortunately, the little mummy disappeared in the 1950’s, so no further testing has been done. Scientists have studied the photographs and claim it’s the mummy of an anencephalic fetus. But why did the little mummy have a full set of adult teeth?
More Fairy Sightings
An American woman claims she’s seen numerous fairies during paranormal investigations including a green elf in a cemetery, a sylph (air fairy) that flies by her house, and even has photographic evidence of the existence of the Green Man in America. Real encounters with fairies in America have been happening for hundreds of years and still happen today. Because of my articles on fairies, I receive emails from people who have pictures of fairies in the forests of America. Whether fairies are real, physical beings or spiritual beings, I cannot decide. But I know they exist in one form or another and they are prevalent in America.