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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), Puckwudgie (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.

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Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Traditions of the Arapaho:
    Collection of Arapaho legends and oral history, including four stories about cannibal dwarfs.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Arapaho and other Algonquian tribes.
The Deetkatoo:
    Traditional tales about little people from 14 different Native American tribes.

Additional Resources

 Arapaho monsters
 Arapaho language
 Cheyenne language
 Colorado tribes
 Plains Indian language

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