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Arikara Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our index of Arikara folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have organized 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, please let us know.

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Important Arikara Mythological Figures

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

Neshanu Natchitak: 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.

Mother Corn: 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.

Chirich: Coyote, the trickster figure of Arikara Indian myth. 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.

Drinks Brains and Long Teeth: These magical twins whose mother was killed by a monster are common to the myths of many Midwestern and Plains tribes.

Whirlwind-Woman: Powerful storm spirit of Arikara mythology.

Stuwi: 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.

Arikara Indian Folklore

*How Corn Came to Earth:
    The Arikara myth about the beginning of the world.
*Arikara Creation Myth
    A shorter version of the Arikara creation story.
*The First To Know Maize:
    Arikara story about the boy who first tasted corn.
*How Antelope Carrier Saved the Thunderbirds:
    Adventures of the Arikara boy hero Antelope Carrier.
*An Address To Mother Corn:
    Speech from the Arikara Corn Ceremony.
*The Forgotten Ear of Corn:
    Arikara legend about caring for the corn.
*The Legend of the Peace Pipes:
    Origin of the Arikara peace pipe.
*The Magic Windpipe:
    An Arikara story about the trickster Coyote.

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Recommended Books on Arikara Mythology

Myths and Traditions of the Arikara Indians:
    Collection of Arikara legends and oral history.
Traditional Narratives of the Arikara Indians: * Traditional Narratives From Alfred Morsette:
    Two-volume set of legends and stories in the Arikara language, with English translation.
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

 Women of the Earth Lodges
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American religions
 Indian tribes of North Dakota
 The Great Plains
 Caddoan Indians
 Arikara culture
 Native American Indians



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