Indian languages * Indian people * American Indian nations

Apache Legends and Myths

This is our index of Apache folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have organized our Native American folktales 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 Apache tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Navajo and Pueblo tribes are very similar to Apache folklore.

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

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Apache Mythological Figures

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

Coyote (or Fox): Coyote is the most common trickster figure among the Apache tribes (though in some communities, the same stories attributed to Coyote instead feature Fox as the hero.) Like the trickster figures of other Southwestern tribes, Coyote/Fox is occasionally helpful to humans, but at other times his impetuous and foolish behavior causes trouble for everyone around him. Frequently he is killed through his own recklessness, but always comes back to life afterwards. Like other legendary Apache beings, Coyote is sometimes described as having human form, and other times animal form.

Big Owl (or Owl-Man): A malicious and dangerous giant often used as a "bogeyman" in children's stories. Like other legendary Apache beings, Big Owl is sometimes described as having human form (in this case a man-eating ogre) and other times animal form (in this case a horned owl large enough to carry off a child.)

Apache Indian Folklore

*Jicarilla Apache Legends:
    Online collection of 53 Jicarilla myths and legends, as well as oral histories and traditions.
*Myths and tales of the Jicarilla Apache:
    Another e-book of Jicarilla legends and lore.
*Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache Legends:
    Online compilation of myths and legends from the Chiricahua and Mescaelro Apache tribes.
*Apache Fox Stories:
    Six Jicarilla Apache stories about the misadventures of the trickster Fox.
*Apache Creation Story * The Chiricahua Creation * Jicarilla Emergence:
    Apache myths about the beginning of the world.
*The Origin of Fire:
    Apache myth about Fox stealing fire.
*How The Buffalo Were Released On Earth: * Releasing the Buffalo * Raven and Buffalo:
    Jicarilla and Plains Apache legends about the origin of the buffalo herds.
*Apache Flood Myth:
    A Mojave-Apache legend about the flooding of the earth.
*Coyote Fights a Lump of Pitch:
    Western Apache legend about a fight between the tricksters Coyote and Fox.
*Coyote Gets Rich off the White Men * Coyote and the Money Tree:
    Humorous modern legends about Coyote tricking some white soldiers.
*The Origin of Curing Ceremonies:
    Apache Indian legend about how the curing ceremony began.
*Death of the Great Elk * Why The Bat Has Short Legs * Killing of the Monsters:
    Apache legends about how the animals became as they are today.
*Coyote Proves Himself A Cannibal:
    Apache story about the trickster Coyote getting the better of Owl.
*Why The Bat Hangs Upside Down:
    Apache legend about a fight between Hawk and Bat.
*Coyote And Bobcat Scratch Each Other:
    Apache Indian story about the animals playing tricks on one another.
*The Abandoned Children:
    White Mountain Apache legend about a neglectful mother's comeuppance.
*The Mescaleros' Prophecy:
    Mescalero Apache prophecies about the coming of white men and the end of the world, in Apache and English.
*Apache Mythology * Jicarilla Mythology:
    Early 20th-century collections of Apache legends.

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Recommended Books on Apache Mythology
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Songs of the Wind Dancer * Apache Legends and Lore of Southern New Mexico:
    Two excellent collections of Apache mythology and traditional stories.
Tales of the Chiricahua Apache Indians * Tales of the White Mountain Apache * Tales of the Jicarilla Apache Indians:
    Series of older ethnographic collections of Apache tribal texts.
And It Is Still That Way:
    Charming anthology of legends told by Apache and other Arizona Indian children.
Hold Up The Sky:
    Legends from the Apache and other Texas tribes.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred stories about Coyote and other Native American tricksters.
    (Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.)

Additional Resources

 Apache Sunrise Ceremony
 Books of American Indian legends
 Indian religion
 Apache language
 Native American tribes of Arizona
 Southwest Indians
 Southwestern art
 Apache culture
 Native American Indian facrs

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