A young male prances as he nears a herd of female elk.
Elk have played an important role in the cultural history of a number of peoples. Pictograms and petroglyphs of elk were carved into cliffs thousands of years ago by the Anasazi of the southwestern U.S.
More recent Native American tribes, including the Kootenai, Cree, Blackfeet, Ojibwa and Pawnee, produced blankets and robes from elk hides. The elk was of particular importance to the Lakota, and played a spiritual role in their society. At birth, Lakota males were given an elk's tooth to promote a long life. Young Lakota males who had dreamed of elk would have an image of the mythical representation of the elk on their "courting coats" as a sign of sexual prowess.
The Lakota believed that the mythical or spiritual elk, not the physical one, was the teacher of men and the embodiment of strength, sexual prowess and courage.
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