In the Americas the gods are often depicted as dragons or serpentine creatures. Quetzalcoatl is the Aztec god of wisdom and religion. Toltecs, Mayans and other Mesoamerican tribes and cultures also worshipped him. His very name means feathered serpent, and he is often depicted as a great feathered serpent. He is also the god of the winds, and his dragon form allows him to move freely with the wind.
The Olmec tribe of Mesoamerica were the first to create carvings and images of a feathered serpent in the Americas, and soon most tribes from the Northern USA to the bottom of the Andes in South America were using dragons in their artwork. Deifying them soon followed.
American dragons are often gods of wind and water. Being fast-moving themselves, it only seems right that they should be the deities of something just as fast-paced. The indigenous peoples often sacrificed to the gods, and the dragons were some of the most important. When something of a good nature occurred, such as a good harvest, the tribes thanked them with sacrifices and festivals.
The more settled empires of the Aztecs, Mayans, and Incas, as well as others, saw the dragon as the most powerful being alive. Some saw the sun as a great golden god, giving light to the people below. Others saw the dragon as the one who swallowed the sun at dusk and spat it back out at dawn. They believed that if the dragons did not do this there would be no night, and the people would not sleep. If the people did not sleep they would be too tired to work and the tribe would soon vanish. The dragons are responsible for allowing us to sleep according to these people.
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