'Harry Potter': Are These the Names of the Houses at America's Hogwarts?

Harry Potter Ilvermorny magic school
Part of a map of Ilvermorny, the American magic school in the "Harry Potter" universe. A Reddit user claims to have found the names of the school's houses. Pottermore

Growing up with the Harry Potter franchise, children everywhere, at one time or another, pondered which Hogwarts house they might have been sorted into: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw or even scheming Slytherin. J.K. Rowling's adoption of the stately house system was one of the imaginative aspects of the Potter stories that helped it elevate from just another series of children's books set in a school to an immersive experience.

Now, with the release of spin-off movie Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, set in 1920s New York, Rowling is setting the scene for a whole new magical world complete with its own U.S. magic school: Ilvermorny. While most of us are waiting patiently for its release in November, one eager Redditor decided to hunt down more clues on Rowling's Pottermore website—and hit the sorting hat jackpot.

Hypable.com reports that the unidentified Reddit user scoured Pottermore's source code and stumbled upon a quiz feature, still in the works, that sorts visitors into the four houses of Ilvermorny. The names of those houses appear to be: Horned Serpent, Wampus, Thunderbird and Pukwudgie.

The website corroborated the Redditor's findings in its own search, a screenshot of which can be seen here.

Although some of those names may sound unpronounceable and plucked from thin air, they follow in the footsteps of Rowling's recent Pottermore short stories that took inspiration from real Native American cultures and mythology.

A Wikipedia search finds that each of the house names are influenced by Native American folklore. A wampus cat, for example, is a "creature in American folklore, variously described as some kind of fearsome variation of a cougar." The thunderbird is a "supernatural bird of power and strength" in indigenous cultures. The pukwudgie stems from Wampanoag folklore and is a two or three-foot-tall creature with human-like features but larger fingers, noses and ears. And the horned serpent appears in various Native American mythologies "with many of the stories associating the mystical figure with water, rain, lightning and/or thunder."

Rowling borrowing from Native American cultures for the Ilvermorny house names may prove controversial. In March she was accused of cultural appropriation in her History of Magic in North America short stories posted on Pottermore. They incorporated skinwalkers and Native American "medicine men," which some within the communities felt was distasteful.

One of the most vocal critics was Adrienne Keene, a Cherokee scholar who runs the blog Native Appropriations. She said that Rowling was "completely rewriting these traditions. Traditions that come from a particular context, place, understanding, and truth."

Rowling, an active Twitter user, was notably silent on the criticism.

It should be noted that although the Pottermore source code may indeed contain the names of the Ilvermorny houses, Rowling, Pottermore and Fantastic Beasts studio Warner Bros. have yet to confirm this.

In a statement to Newsweek, a spokesperson for Pottermore said: "Last January, the name and general location of the wizarding school Ilvermorny was revealed in new writing by J.K. Rowling that was posted on pottermore.com. Pottermore has not confirmed details about the school since then. We will release and confirm new information about Ilvermorny in the near future."

'Harry Potter': Are These the Names of the Houses at America's Hogwarts? | Culture