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Alsea Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our index of Alsea folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have organized our Native American legends 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 Alsea tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Coos and Siuslaw are very similar.

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

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Alsea Mythological Figures

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

As in many Native American tribes, traditional Alsea myths and sacred stories were told only during the winter-- specifically during January, among the Alseas. Myths about Coyote and Seu'ku were among the ones whose storytelling was restricted to the month of January. Folktales and more casual stories, such as legends about Asin and other monsters, were told at any time of year.

Coyote (Mo'luptsini'sla): Coyote is the culture hero of the Alsea and other tribes of the Oregon coast. Although he behaves as a trickster character in some Alsea legends, he is also a more serious transformer figure who teaches the people how to live and helps shape the world for them, and therefore he was a respected figure among the Alseas. His Alsea name is pronounced similar to moh-lup-tsin-ee-sla.

Seu'ku (also spelled Seuku, Shio'k, Shiok, Shioku, Suku, and other ways): An Alsea trickster character, also known as the Wanderer, who underwent a period of transformation as a whale and afterwards became a mighty monster-slayer. His name is pronounced similar to she-oo-kuh.

Asin (also known as Lxalwaena): A cannibal ogress. Like other monstrous ogres of the Northwest Coast, Asin preys on children and is often the subject of "bogeyman" stories told to frighten children into avoiding dangerous behavior. Asin was particularly associated with huckleberry plants, so Alsea people (especially children) did not touch or eat huckleberries. Her name is pronounced similar to ah-sin.

Alsea Indian Folklore

*Origin of the Alsea, Yakonan, and Siuslawan:
    Alsea legend about the creation of their tribe and their neighbors.
*The Origin of Death:
    Alsea legend about how death came to the world.
*The Cyclone Woman:
    Alsea story about Cyclone Woman and her children.
*The Universal Change:
    Alsea myth about Coyote inventing games and naming the animals.
*The Death of Grizzly Bear:
    Alsea Indian story about the animals joining forces against Grizzly.

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Recommended Books on Alsea Mythology
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Alsea Texts and Myths:
    Collection of traditional Alsea stories.
Coyote Was Going There: Indian Literature of the Oregon Country:
    Excellent collection of folklore from the Alsea and other Oregon tribes.

Additional Resources

 Books of indigenous legends
 Native beliefs
 Alsea language
 Oregon Native American history
 Northwest Indians
 Northwest art
 Penutian Indians
 Interesting facts for kids

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Back to Native American animal spirits
Learn more about the Alsea tribe

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