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Ahtna Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our index of Ahtna folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have organized our Native American tales section by tribe to make them easier to locate; however, variants on the same legend are often told by American Indians from different tribes, especially if those tribes are kinfolk or neighbors to each other. In particular, though these legends come from the Ahtna tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Gwich'in and Tanaina are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend an Ahtna story for this page, please let us know.

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Important Ahtna Mythological Figures

Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Ahtna mythology.

Raven (Saghani Ggaay in the Ahtna language): Raven is the culture hero of the Ahtna and other Alaskan Athabaskan tribes. He is a revered and benevolent transformer god who helps the people and shapes their world for them, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Ahtna Indian stories about Raven have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble. The Ahtna name sounds similar to sah-gah-nee guy.

Bush Indians (Ts'eł'eni or Kol'eni): Wild men of the tundra. They are aggressive and are said to wage war against the Athabaskan people. Bush Indians often feature as bogeymen in Athna stories told to children, sometimes kidnapping or even eating unwary kids. Pronounced similar to ts-elth-eh-nee.

The Wood Man (Nuhu'anh): A hairy bigfoot-like wild man of the forest who moves silently and rarely reveals himself to humans. Frequently he steals things or causes other minor mischief, and in some stories has been said to capture Ahtna children.

Gguux (also spelled Gux, Ġu∙x, Gook, or other ways): Underwater monster that lurked in lakes and ate people. Its name is pronounced similar to gookh (the "x" sounds like the raspy "ch" of German "ach.")

Cet'aeni (or Cet'aenn): Legendary humanoid creatures with tails who lived in trees and caves, enemies of humans. Their name, which means "tailed ones," is pronounced tset-ann-ee. Today they are sometimes also referred to as the Monkey People.

Ahtna Indian Folklore

*Ahtna Legends and Lore:
    Article about an Ahtna storyteller, including a legend about the downfall of a greedy hunter,
*Raven's Athabaskan Tales:
    Online collection of seven Ahtna and other Alaskan Athabaskan legends about the trickster hero Raven.
*Native Alaskan Stories:
    Eight Ahtna, Tlingit, and Eskimo legends presented by a Native Alaskan educational organization.

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Recommended Books on Ahtna Myth
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Atna' Yanida'a: Ahtna Stories * In the Shadows of Mountains:
    Collections of Copper River Ahtna myths and legends.
Tatl'Ahwt'Aenn Nenn: The Headwaters People's Country:
    Folklore and traditions of the Upper Ahtna Athabaskans.
What We Leave Behind: Ahtna Elders Reflect on History:
    Oral history of the Ahtna tribe told by several Native elders.
Our Voices: Native Stories of Alaska and the Yukon:
    Collection of legends and oral history from the Ahtna and other Athabaskan tribes.

Additional Resources

 Books of Native American myths
 Native American religion
 Ahtna tribe
 Alaska Native people
 Subarctic culture
 Alaskan Athabascan
 Native American Indian websites

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