Native Languages of the Americas: Arikara Legends and Traditional Stories
This is our collection of Arikara folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our Native American mythology 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 Arikara tribe, the traditional stories of
the Pawnee and other Plains Indian tribes are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Arikara legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please feel free to contact us and let us know.
Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Arikara mythology.
The Arikara name for the Great Spirit or God. Literally it means "the Chief Above."
Often just called Nishanu ("Chief" or "Lord"), which is still used as the Arikara word for God today.
Her Arikara name (Atna or Atina) literally means just "Mother"; the "corn" was added to her
name by anthropologists because she was the goddess or spirit of the corn. According to Arikara mythology,
Neshanu created the Mother from an ear of corn and she became the protector of the Arikaras, leading them to
their homeland and teaching them to farm.
Coyote, the trickster figure of Arikara mythology. He is clever but
reckless, and is forever getting himself and the people around him into trouble, particularly through
socially inappropriate behavior like greediness, boastfulness, lying, and chasing women. Like modern
cartoon characters, Coyote frequently dies during the course of his adventures and returns randomly
to life-- it is impossible to truly get rid of that trickster for good. Coyote stories are often humorous
in nature, but they can also be cautionary tales about the consequences of bad behavior and the dangers
of interacting with irresponsible people.
Stuwi is a woman of loose morals who features in many jokes and stories told among Arikara men.
Stuwi stories usually feature adult humor.
Scalped Man (Tshunuxu):
A warrior who returned to life after being killed and scalped in battle and now roams the world
as a fearsome spirit being.