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Native American Legends: Cannibal Dwarves
Name: Cannibal Dwarves
Tribal affiliation: Arapaho, Gros Ventre, Cheyenne
Native Names: Hecesiiteihii (Arapaho), Vo'estanehesono (Cheyenne)
Alternate spellings: Hantceciitehi, Hachasitehi, Cesiiteihii, Hajase-daheauau, Hantcaciihi Teihiihan, Hacacihi
Pronunciation: In Arapaho, heah-chass-ee-tay-hee (the first syllable rhymes with "yeah.") In Cheyenne, similar to voh-stah-neh-heh-soh-noh.
Also Known As: Enemy Dwarves
Type: Native American little people, antagonists
Related figures in other tribes: Nimerigar (Shoshone), Awwakkule (Crow), Pukwudgie (Wampanoag)
Although benign races of small magical creatures exist in many Native American tribes, the Little People
of the Arapahos and neighboring tribes-- also known as Cannibal Dwarves or Enemy Dwarves--
are dangerous man-eaters and particular enemies
of the Arapaho tribe. Their Arapaho name, Hecesiiteihii, literally means "little people." ("Teihiihan" comes from the
Arapaho word for "strong"-- Arapaho dwarves are said to have superhuman strength.) In some texts they are
referred to as "Nimerigar" instead, which is a name borrowed from the neighboring Shoshone tribe
(who had similar legends about ferocious little people.) Descriptions of the cannibal dwarves vary somewhat
from community to community, but they are usually said to be the size of children, dark-skinned, and
extremely aggressive. Some storytellers say that they had the power to turn themselves invisible,
while others say they were hard to spot simply because they moved with incredible speed. Some suggest
that the dwarves' warlike temperament comes because they must be killed in battle to reach the dwarf afterworld.
Others believe that they were gluttons who habitually killed more than they could eat just because they could.
According to most versions of the story, the race of cannibal dwarves was destroyed in an ancient war with the
Arapahos and other allied Native American tribes.
Cannibal Dwarf Stories
Nihancan and the Dwarf's Arrow:
Arapaho Indian legend about a disrespected dwarf teaching the trickster Nihancan a lesson.
Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
Traditions of the Arapaho:
Collection of Arapaho legends and oral history, including four stories about cannibal dwarfs.
Anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Arapaho and other Algonquian tribes.
Traditional tales about little people from 14 different Native American tribes.
Tell Me, Grandmother
Plains Indian language
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