J.K. Rowling Introduces Native American Magic in First 'Fantastic Beasts' Short Story

The first piece of original writing aimed at offering a backstory to the upcoming film series' pre-'Harry Potter' world was published on the Pottermore website Tuesday.
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J.K. Rowling

True to her word, just a day after unveiling History of Magic in North America —  a series of short pieces of original writing aimed at introducing audiences to the pre-Harry Potter world of the upcoming spinoff series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them — J.K. Rowling has published the first chapter on the Pottermore website.

Entitled Fourteenth Century – Seventeenth Century, the short explains how the magical communities in North America and Europe had known of each other "long before the immigration of European No-Majs." No-Majs are, of course, the American equivalents of Muggles (as first explained last year).

As with their European counterparts, Rowling says, certain Native American families were "clearly magical," while magic also appeared unexpectedly in families where there hadn't been any known witches or wizards. In a possible nod toward a story that will feature in the trilogy of upcoming films, she describes the legend of the "skin walker," an evil witch or wizard who can transform into an animal at will.

"A legend grew up around the Native American Animagi that they had sacrificed close family members to gain their powers of transformation," she writes. "In fact, the majority of Animagi assumed animal forms to escape persecution or to hunt for the tribe. Such derogatory rumors often originated with No-Maj medicine men, who were sometimes faking magical powers themselves, and fearful of exposure."

Rowling also explains how, while wands originated across the Atlantic, North American practitioners excelled in animal and plant sorcery, with their "potions in particular being of a sophistication beyond much that was known in Europe."

The second story, to be posted Wednesday, will look at the dangers of being a North American witch or wizard in the 17th century, while Thursday's short will examine the manner in which the local wizarding community was driven deeper underground in the 18th century. The final section of History of Magic in North America, to be posted on the Pottermore website Friday, goes through to the Roaring 1920s, the setting for Fantastic Beasts.

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