Native American Mythology

The terms legend and folktale are sometimes used interchangeably with myth. Technically, however, these are not the same. How should we distinguish them? Donna Rosenberg, in her book Folklore, Myth, and Legends: A World Perspective, offers some useful guidelines:

A myth is a sacred story from the past. It may explain the origin of the universe and of life, or it may express its culture's moral values in human terms. Myths concern the powers who control the human world and the relationship between those powers and human beings. Although myths are religious in their origin and function, they may also be the earliest form of history, science, or philosophy...

A folktale is a story that, in its plot, is pure fiction and that has no particular location in either time or space. However, despite its elements of fantasy, a folktale is actually a symbolic way of presenting the different means by which human beings cope with the world in which they live. Folktales concern people -- either royalty or common folk -- or animals who speak and act like people...

A legend is a story from the past about a subject that was, or is believed to have been, historical. Legends concern people, places, and events. Usually, the subject is a saint, a king, a hero, a famous person, or a war. A legend is always associated with a particular place and a particular time in history.

Buffalo Boy

Granted soul, where do I go
I see a world in need of help
Little red buffalo, won't you come with me?


Here I am, newborn child
It's cuz of you I'm buffalo boy
Little red buffalo, hey what do you feel?

Listen to the trees, here's what they say
The land's becoming dangerous
Newborn child, here's what we must do

Teach the old ways, share the knowledge
For all are part of the universe
Newborn child, that's what we must do

Granted soul
Oh, oh, oh

We are the ancestors, returning to you
We are all from the past
Little red buffalo, we were born together

Granted soul, now here we go
Reminding all our relatives

Creation/Migration/Origin

Arctic Area
California Area
General Legends
Great Basin Area
Great Plains Area
Northeast Area
Northwest Coast Area
Plateau Area
Southeast Area
Southwest Area
Subarctic Area
World Area

Fables of the Mayas
Gaelic Myths
Kokopelli Legends & Lore
Legends and Folklore of the Northern Lights
Myths from the United Kingdom

Animal Stories

Bear
Buffalo
Coyote
Deer
Eagle
Fox
Grandfather
Jaguar
Rabbit
Raven (Crow)
Skunk
Snake
Wolf

More Stories

It must be remembered that the animals which appear in Indian stories are not the same as those which exist now. When the world began, animals were much bigger, stronger and cleverer than their present counterparts but, because of man's cruelty and agression, these left the earth and took the rainbow path to Galunlati, the Sky Land, where they still remain. The animals which came after them - those we know today - are weak imitations of those first creatures.

Storytelling Library

AADIZOOKAANAG -- Traditional Stories
Aborigine Stories
Australian Legendary Tales
Canku Ota
Cherokee Stories
Cornish Legends
Encyclopedia Mythica
Encyclopedia of Hotc‚k (Winnebago) Mythology
Folk Legends of Japan
Folk Legends of Japan 1
Folklore from around the World
Germanic Myths, Legends, and Sagas
Guam Legends
Guam Legens II
Indian Legends:
(Algonquin, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chinook, Choctaw, Chumash, Comanche,
Creek, Hopi, Iroquois, Lakota, Lenape, Mohawk, Navajo, Seneca, Sioux)

IPL Stories



Internet Sacred Texts
Innu tipatshimuna (stories)
Irish Mythology
Legends
Legends and Myths
Legends from Oban the Knowledge Keeper
Legends, Stories & Poems
Maya Stories
Maya Stories 1
More Legends
Myths and Legends of Our Own Land
Myths & Legends
Myths and Legends of Ancient Korea
Myths of Mexico and Peru

Blackfoot Chiefs
Native American Lore
Native American Tales
Native American Oral Traditions
North American Bigfoot Legends
Norwegian Legends
Old Indian Legends
Other Legends
Sacred Stories (Africa)
Sioux Legends

Stories for the Seasons
Stories, Legends & Folktales

Story Links
Story Robes and Legends (Blackfoot)
Storytelling of the North Carolina Indians
Tall Tales
Thunderhawk Stories
University of Virginis Texts
Women of the Celts in Myth, Legend and Story
World Myths & Legends in Art

Other Sites: Legends, Myths & Stories

Wampum beads, made from several kinds of shell, were highly prized by the Indians who lived along the Atlantic coast. Where beads were laboriously cut from the conch shell and quallog clam, while the thick hinge of the clam provided Pink and purple beads.

Wampum beads were used in various ways. They were strung together to form necklaces and bracelets, or used simply to decorate clothing, weapons and utensils. They also served as a form of money to ransom captives, to pay compensation for crimes and injuries and to reward shamans for their services. Most important of all, they were made into belts and used instead of signatures to confirm area ties and agreements between tribes.

The color of the wampum was also important. White was the emblem of peace and good faith. Purple symbolized death, sorrow and mourning. White beads coloured red were sent as a declaration of war or as an invitation to join a war-party. Combinations of these colours were used to convey messages or to record ceremonies and agreements.

Starlore of Native America

North American Indians tell many stories about the stars - individual stars and groups of stars. Often in these stories, the stars are referred to as "the People of the Sky World."

When the first white people came to the Northwest, Indians of several nations told them about a great bridge of rocks and earth that once spanned the lower Columbia River. When the bridge fell, they said, the rocks made numerous rapids and little waterfalls in the Columbia, near the present city of Hood River. Now the rocks and rapids are covered by the waters above Bonneville Dam.

Other Links

Keeper of Stories

Native American Articles

Native American Spirituality

Stories from the Carribbean

This web site includes information on several different
topics related to Native American spirituality,
including some comments on Native American Origins.


Indigenous Peoples' Literature Return to Indigenous Peoples' Literature

Compiled by: Glenn Welker





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