Spirits in Flesh

When we were created we were given our ground to live on and from this time these were our rights. This is all true. We were put here by the Creator - I was not brought from a foreign country… -Chief Weninock, Yakima

The Nunnehi are the faerie spirits of the Native Americans. Not only are they the embodiments of the myths, legends, dreams, and possibilities of the native tribes of North America, they also spring from the vision quests and spirit workings integral to those cultures. The word Nunnehi means "people who live anywhere," and they inhabit remove wilderness areas as well as living on the fringes of human society, often combining nomadic and settled cultures. Their townships and enclaves serve as bases for groups of wandering hunters and warriors, who act as guardians against the encroachment of outsiders, including European changelings.Like the mortals whose dreams they personify, the Nunnehi share a reverence for and understand of the natural world of rocks, plants, and animals. In some ways they serve as a spirit link between nature and their chosen tribes.

Long before the coming of the Kithain, the Nunnehi Nations lived in harmony with the Native American tribes. Though somewhat varied due to differences in concepts and beliefs, many Nunnehi had traits in common. Many were invisible or could become so; some could change size from a few inches tall to gigantic. Almost all were believed to grant favors or bestow curses. Closely tied to both the natural world and the world of spirits, some some served as go-betweens for communications with higher beings or the spirits of the dead. Trives left gifts to placate their spirit brethren, asked them for guidance, and feared their retribution should anyone insult or anger them. In return, the Nunnehi nations watched over their "flesh brothers," lending their assistance when needed and teaching tribal dreamers healing and growing magics.

Nunnehi are very different from their European cousins. They do not gather Glamour, but "harvest Medicine." They evince different types than the European faeries as well, having no Boggans, Sluagh, Sidhe, or Redcaps. Instead, they are water babies or invisible people depending on which region and tribe they descend from. They refer to these types as Families rather then Kith. Nor do Nunnehi refer to themselves as Kithain. They are the Nunnehi Nations. Indeed, they hardly seem to grasp the concept of being singular, instead referring to a single Nunnehi as "one" to show that the Nunnehi is question is "one of the principal people (of the Nunnehi Nations). In this, they are much like their flesh brothers, who see themselves as part of and in relationship to the tribe before being individuals. Sadly, they also resemble the tribes in their dislocation from many of their former territories and in their declining numbers.

Those who were left behind when the doorways to Arcadia and the Higher Hunting Grounds (the Nunnehi Dreaming) became changelings. The European faeries underwent a changing ritual that shielded them from Banality; the native faeries found highly spiritual people who agreed to act as hosts for the Nunnehi's spirits. The first Nunnehi-human hybrids shared the bodies, with the Nunnehi spirit remaining quiescent within until the host either fathered or became the mother of a child. The Nunnehi spirit then entered the child before birth, fusing its faeries spirit to the child's flesh. Those who had hosted Nunnehi spirits within themselves often became couselors, medicine men, and wise women in their tribes due to the insights granted them by their faerie brethren. Nunnehi have most often chosen to re-manifest within the descendants of those they originally inhabited, though any member of the Nunnehi's chosen tribe might be so honored. This has proven to be both a blessing and a curse, keeping the Nunnehi strong and allied with their tribes, while creating grave problems for for those whose tribes have become extinct.

The major difference between Nunnehi and other changelings lies in their relationship to the Dreaming. Unlike other changelings, who are merely exiled from Arcadia and who can still occasionally tough the Dreaming, Nunnehi have lost their connection to their homeland (called the Higher Hunting Grounds) in the Dreaming. There is speculation that this may stem from the actual destruction of the Higher Hunting Grounds due to the loss of so many native trives and the erosion of their beliefs. To compensate, Nunnehi have gained the ability to draw Glamour (which they call Medicine) directly from the natural world, and are also able to enter the spirit world under certain conditions.

The Nunnehi still mourn their loss of the Dreaming and commemorate it through their love for and skill in song, dance, story, and artistic endeavors. Ironically, most Nunnehi tend to be extremely creative in at least one of these areas, this making them sources of Glamour for other changelings.


The story of the Nunnehi is one of coping with a series of invasions. In each region, certain areas were set aside as homelands or territories for the Nunnehi. These were usually thought to be places of power and great natural beauty such as waterfalls, strange rock formations, stands of woods, particular coves along the shoreline, caves, great trees, or islands found in mid-river or emerging from a dismal swamp. In some cases, this brought them into competition with Garou, who claimed caerns in many of the same regions. For the most part, though, the two groups cooperated rather than competing, and the Croatan, Ukten, and Wendigo found natural allies among the Nunnehi. To this day, ti is far more likely to find the Native American Garou and the Nunneho allied that at odds with one another. This is not true with regard to those Garou who are called "the latecomers" - the Fianna, Get of Fenris, Silver Fangs, and others.

The First Wave

More Intrusive and more dangerous to the native faeries were those of their own kind. Many Nunnehi were originally friendly to those who fled to North Americia to escape Banality. Those noble Sidhe and their households often came as supplicants searching for new lands to shelter them. The Nunnehi frequently welcomed their foreign cousins and taught them how to live in the new enviroment. Treaties were signed and friendship gifts exchanged.

Soon, however, greater numbers came across teh sea, and these settled wherever they pleased with little regard for the native faeries' feelings. Like their human couterparts who would later arrive in the New World, the European faeries arrogantly assumed that their culture and ways were superior and more civilized. Without understanding that the tradtitions and customs of the Nunnehi were at least as old, if not older, than their own, the immigrants dismissed the rich culture and society of the "backward savages." Some even took Nunnehi captives and thralls to "teach" them European values and how to be "civilized." Relations between the Kithain and the Nunnehi Nations deteriorated wherever the newcomers took no thought for the feelings nad rights of the native faeries. The Nunnehi fought back against the usurpers who took their lands, banding together into war parties to atack European freeholds and travelers. Though most of the older settlements where the Kithain were friendly to the Nunnehi were safe from such attack, some hotheads among the Nations made war upon any non-natives.

The European Settlement

With the coming of human European settlers, many of the commoners also arrived. These too encroached upon the Nunnehi just as the humans did. Though the alien faeries appreciated the beauty of their new surrondings, they could not glean Glamour from it as could the Nunnehi. Unwittingly, the settlers felled stands of ancient trees and plowed over fields where Nunnehi had once danced and harvested Medicine. Warfare also took its toll among the Nunnehi. tribe fought tribe as they were puseded into one another's territories and forced into competition for resources. Many natives supported European powers rather than the American settlers in the War for Independence, hoping that the powers would ive back their lands in return for their help. When the war was lost, these were stripped of their remaining territories, and many were forced into slavery or sent far away. The Nunnehi fought alongside their flesh brothers and shared their fate.

Over time, the Europeans uprooted the native tribes, either decimationg them with diseases they had no protection against or dispacing them from their hunting grounds and homelands. Many Nunnehi who had formally been peaceful responded with anger and enmity, waging war against the European changelings and their human kin. Others withdrew deeper into the forests, or disappeared from the knowledge of their foreign cousins. Some accompanied their displaced flesh brothers to exile in their new homes. Those whose people were displaced and who either would not or could not follow their human kin have either died out, or withdrawn so deeply into the spirit world that they are no longer seen on Earth. A very few of these remain in hidden enclaves, but they are ancient now and malevolent toward all. Theses have wholly given themselves over to the Winter natures and wait only for their eventual deaths. It is unknown whether these Nunnehi's spirits can inhabit the bodies of other tribal people, or if their passing will mark the end of their immortal faerie souls. These are the most dangerous Nunnehi - especially to non-natives - because they have nothing more to lose.

While less deliberately malevolent, other Nunnehi continue to attack and fight the usurpers. It isn't hard to understand their resentment and hatred for the aliens who took their land, ripped away their Glamour, decimated their tribal brethren and almost destroyed them. Their once-free glens, which served them as dancing circles, tribal meeting places, and encampments, have been made over into freeholds by the Europeans. Many Nunnehi were nomadic, moving according to the seasons, or availability of game. The concept of a fixed place, of remaining in one abode, is foreign to them still. Much less do they understand reservations or why their people are confined to such porr areas with little to sustain them.

For the last hundred years, the Nunnehi have been in decline as their tribes lost most of their population, shunned their old beliefs, and turned away from their ancient traditions. Only in the last few decades has there been a resurgence of Native American pride and a renewal of interest in the old ways. With it has come the rebirth of Nunnehi who were thought to have been lost forever as their stories faded from memory and the birth of the new Nunnehi from the visions, dreams, and beliefs of modern tribal people. From this renaissance of belief has arisen new hope that the Nunnehi are no longer a dead and dying people, but one that has endured their long Winter and now emerging again into Spring.

The Return of the Sidhe

Into the volatile mix precipitated by Kithain dominance and Nunnehi desperation has now been thrown the return of the noble Sidhe. Their coming and reclamation of lands they considered to be their fiefs not only sparked the Accordance War, but acted as a call to arms for Nunnehi as well. Some Nunnehi were again displaced by this influx of non-natives, who once again assumed their own superiority. Many of these fought alongside the commoners, believing that once they triumphed, the common Kithain must reconize their rights. Others merely stood aside, feeling that it was none of their concern if commoner slew noble, so long as all involved were not Nunnehi. A third group allied with the nobles, remembering a time when some nobles had sworn treaties and bonds of friendship with them. These fared best, and some Nunnehi Nations today enjoy treaties and guarantees of their rights sworn to by noble friends who have claimed fiefdoms partly won through Nunnehi support.

Naturally, nothing is without a price. The conflicting loyalties engendered by the Accordance Wars have caused old enmities among various tribes of Nunnehi to erupt. Most tribes refuse to engage in warfare against their own kind, but those whose tribes were enemies or competitors again spoil for battle to prove themselves better. The new emphasis on pride among Native Americans has had a heady effect upon the Nations. Where they all might once have been content to ally in the face of certain eventual destruction, the renewal of native culture has made them proud and unwilling to forgive old wrongs. Nunnehi from competing tribes might forswear fighting among themselves long enough to battle non-natives, but they seldom choose to ally for longer periods or even go their separate, peaceful ways. If no fight ensues between the momentary allies, they back away from confrontation, with each expecting treachery from the other untill miles are put between them. Thus, even as the Nunnehi again become strong, they weaken themselves from within by inter-tribal bickering.


All Nunnehi belong to a tribe. Differences in Nunnehi can be attributed to the variant dreams and expectations among the Native American tribes. For this reason, it is difficult for Nunnehi to be born into non-natives or those who are not members of their tribe. Doing so almost guarantees that they will not remember who and what they are until they become elders and reach the perspective and wisdom age brings.

For the most part, many tribes from the same region have similar backgrounds, such as the buffalo hunters of the Great Plains. To that extent, Nunnehi may be associated with particular areas, being identified, for example, as Southwestern or Northeastern. Within those regions, however, the individual tribes shape the form, dress, practices, and customs that the Nunnehi Nations follow. Nunnehi are never born into tribes who once were or are still considered rivals or enemies to their own.

Regardless of their geographic placement, each still flourishing or revitalized culture has a special relationship with the its Nunnehi. While modern tribal members may not believe that Nunnehi move among them, many do believe in nature spirits to whom they appeal for help and strength. Many also believe that certain children are born who evince talents or spiritual affinities that mark them as "special." Nunnehi often serve as tribal storytellers, lorekeepers, artists, crafters, and dancers. Some become advisors or even chiefs.

It is not possible to examine each tribe in detail, but this general overview can be used as a springboard for further investigation into the Native American tribes from whom the Nunnehi take their shapes. Virtually all the native cultures depicted here are confined to reservations today. In most cases, the Nunnehi are a blend of ancient practices and modern sensibilities. Because they often depend upon both their ties to the natural and spirit worlds and on old traditions for their existence, however, Nunnehi tend to be more anachronistic than other changelings, clinging to old ways rather than embracing modern tools and ways of life. Therefore, the descriptions given below of the clothing, customs, skills, and practices of the various tribes is still fairly accurate when applied to the practices of modern Nunnehi.


…and each of the five chiefs of the sister nations clasped the hands of the others so firmly that a falling tree could not have severed them. - From the story of the found of the Iroquois Confederacy.

Trappers, hunters, and fishers, the natives of the Northeastern woodlands found that they had many things in common. Alliances and confederations were commonplace, with the Iroquois and Abnaki Confederations pointing the way. Those Nunnehi who were associated with these tribes also considered (and still consider) themselves to be allies of their respective Nunnehi Nations, and may sometimes lend aid to the flesh brothers of allied tribes. Anyone who makes an enemy of one of the allied Nunnehi makes an enemy of all their allies as well. Interestingly, those from the Iroquois Confederation and those of the Abnaki were traditional enemies.

The Confederacy of the Iroquois

Before the coming of the Europeans, a holy man's vision led to the creation of the Confederacy of the Iroquois, five Nations bound together by shared language, custom, and law. The Iroquois, who lived in what became New York state, divided their land into five stripes, democratic republics governed by an elected council. Chiefs were elected from candidates proposed by the matrons of the tribes, and had to act only with the consent of all the women of childbearing age. The Iroquois Nations were controlled by the women, both because they reckoned kin relations through the matrilineal line, and because women were responsible for most of the work done in the community, from childrearing to planting and harvesting. The men were often away hunting for long periods of time.

Made up of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Seneca, the League of Five Nations became Six Nations when they allied with the Tuscarora. All speeches and diplomatic dealings were accompanied by a gift of wampum, beads made from whelk shells. This was done to show that what was said was both important and true. The Iroquois became the most powerful native tribes in the Northeast, allying with the European invaders and thus saving their lands and culture until after the Revolutionary War when most of them sided with the British. They warred chiefly with their rivals in the fur trade, the Hurons, Eries, and Illinois, and the Algonquin speakers of the Abnaki Confederation.

One of the most breathtaking sites in Iroquois land is Taughannock Falls, which plummets of 215 feet into Cayuga Lake and serves as a place of power for those few Cayugan Nunnehi who are left. They wait in vain for the return of their people, who now live on a reservation in Northeastern Oklahoma. Of the six tribes, only the Seneca and Mohawk still maintain any large presences in the area, with the Mohawk taking on the modern role of steelworkers high atop the skyscrapers of Manhattan.

**The Abnaki Confederation

Convering areas from Nova Scotia and New Brunswick to Maine, the Abnaki Confederacy encompassed teh Abnaki, Maliseet, Passamquoddy, and Penobscot tribes. All were Algonguin speakers and held alliances with the French. Expert at canoeing, fishing, and trapping, the Abnaki allies lived in conical qigwams covered with birch bark. Unlike their Iroquois rivals, they reckonded kinship from the patrilinear line. The Abnaki allies popularized the idea of using the Calumet Ceremony (or peace pipe) as a ceremonial means to stopping wars, mediating disagreements and establishing peace. Many among these tribes wore beaver skins, softening and curing the hides for later trade with the French. The Paliseet were noted for their singing, dancing, and elaborate feats, while the Penobscot found fame with their intricate bead and quillwork, and had a reputation for peacefulness and hospitality. Most now live on reservations in Maine.

Other tribes of the area included the Micman, Pequod, Susquehanna, Powhatan, and Delaware.


It is the path of wisdom to learn from one's predecessors, of course, but we also owe them the metaphysical courtesy of remembering them. As archaeologists know, the land itself remembers whose who have dwelt upon it. - George E. Lankford, ed. Native American Legends: Southeastern Legends

The earliest tribes to inhabit the Southeastern woodlands were mound builders, hunter-gatherers who eventually turned to agriculture and built rich and intricate civilization. The migration of the Mississippian tribes into the region resulted in their disappearance or assimilation by the newcomers, who would become known as the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, and Creek. The Seminoles, an offshoot of the creek, eventually traveled to the Florida peninsula.

The tribes that settled the forests and valleys of the Southeast were farmers and hunters, living in summer and winter towns and enjoying a complex form of government revolving around a chief and town council. Decisions were made by consensus, and both warriors and elders (known as beloved men and women) had a voice in the council. Summer houses tended to be rectangular and large, while winter houses were round and heavily insulated, with only a small entrance to conserve heat.

Societal stricture was both matrilineal and matrilocal, and women played an important role in the life of the tribe. They owned property, oversaw the raising of children, and occasionally accompanied their warriors into battle as chroniclers, often singing songs to inspire bravery in combat. Intertribal warfare was common among these tribes, usually for the purpose of taking slaves, or wat captives to assert their status. In times of peace, warriors spent much of their time preparing for and participating in ball games, which assumed ritual significance for the tribes.

The Cherokee inhabited parts of the Carolinas, Tennessee, and Georgia. The Choctaw resided in souther Mississippi and parts of Alabama and Louisiana, while the Chickasaw claimed norther Mississippi as their home. The Creeks made their home in southern Georgia and Alabama.

The Seminole adapted themselves to their semi-tropical environment, building stilt-houses, called chickees, with palmetto leaf roofs and sides that were open to the air except at night, when canopuies were lowered to keep out the insects.

The Five Civilized Tribes

The Europeans who settled the Southeastern woodlands after the 17th century referred to the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, and Seminole as the "five civilized tribes," so call because of their original friendliness to the white invaders and their willingness to adopt the customs of the new arrivals. The Southeastern tribes learned that European method of agriculture, adapted their clothing, and hairstyles to reflect the dress of the white settlers, and in many cases, even converted to the religion of the Europeans. Determined to prove that they could coexist with the newcomers in harmony, they entered into treaties and alliances which they thought would guarantee the sanctity of their homelands.

The Europeans, however, coveted the fertile lands of the Southeastern tribes, and sought every opportunity to acquire the natives' territories for themselves. Many of the Southeastern peoples sided with the British during the Revolutionary War and lost their lands when the British were defeated. Some tribes were pressured into abandoning their lands, traveling west across the Mississippi. Others attempted to remain, hoping fro recognition by the Great Father in Washington (whoever he happened to be) as citizens. In 1827, using the alphabet invented by Sequoyah, the Cherokee adopted a constitution and declared themselves a nation, hoping thereby to establish relations with the government of the former American colonies. Their hopes came to nothing when, in 1838, by presidential fiat, Andrew Jackson enforced the Indian Removal Act, rounding up and relocating the Cherokee and the remaining Southeastern tribes to a reservation in Oklahoma, where they now reside. This forced march, known as the Trail of Tears, resulted in the deaths of nearly a quarter of the exiles.

Some members of the Southeastern tribes managed to escape forced removal. A small portion of the Cherokee hid in the mountains of North Carolina, eventually winning the right to remain in that area. These form of the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation and live on the Qualla Boundary Reservation near the North Carolina/Tennessee border. Many Seminoles retreated into the Everglades and waged guerrilla warfare on the U.S. troops determined to evict them from their land. Even when the Seminole surrendered, a few die hards were permitted to remain on a reservation in Florida. The rest followed their Southeastern cousins to Oklahoma.

Other Southeastern tribes include the Natchez, Catawba, Yuchi, Clusa, Caddo, and the Tunica-Biloxi.

The Northern Tribes

These tribes were forest people like their neighbors to the east. They were the Cree, Ojimbwa, Winnebago, and Blackfoor.

The Cree lived mostly in Canada, but migration in the 17th century scattered them from Quebec to the Rockies. They also came into conflict with the Sioux and Blackfoot neighbors as their territories shifted. Hunting, fishing, and trapping comprised most of their work. They now live in North Dakota.

The Ojibwa are more usually known as the Chippewa (a misnomer). Their meetings with the French changed them from the tiny, self-governing villages to tribal organization that included the Grand Medicine society. Living mainly in Minnesota, they were allied with the French, and traded beaver and pelts for firearms, which they used to drive their enemies, the Sioux, to the west. They were able to maintain many of their cultural traits, such as woodcraft and birch bark canoes, because of their isolation from English and American settlements.

The Winnebago were a woodlands tribe of Sioux lineage. They are divided into two Pharttries - the upper (air) people and lower (earth) people. They lived in permanent villages and grew maize, squash, beans, and tobacco. Removed to Minnesota, they were driven out by white settlers, and today live in Nebraska.

The Blackfoot are actually three closely allied tribes, the Siksikas, Bloods, and Piegans. Much feared by early white trappers and fur traders, the Blackfoot killed any white man who encroached upon their hunting grounds in search of beaver. They lived in tipis and hunted buffalo like other Plains Indians. One of the Piegan's main ceremonials was the sun dance. They now live in Montana and Alberta, Canada.