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Native Languages of the Americas:
Cayuga Legends

This is our collection of links to Cayuga folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our American Indian stories 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, so you may also want to visit our page comparing the stories from the Iroquois tribes (which include the Oneida, Onondaga, Seneca, Mohawk, and Cayuga Indians), since the traditional stories of those tribes are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Cayuga legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Cayuga Mythological Figures

Sky Woman: The Cayuga mother goddess, said to have fallen through a hole in the sky.

The Twin Gods: The culture heroes of the Cayuga tribe. In most Iroquois legends, the Twins are grandsons of Sky Woman and their mother dies in childbirth; however, in Cayuga legends the twins are often said to be Sky Woman's sons. Good Spirit (sometimes known as Sapling) was the benefactor of the Cayugas and according to some tellings, the creator of humankind. He slew monsters and created many things to help humankind. His twin Bad Spirit (sometimes known as Flint) created everything negative and dangerous in the world, and according to some tellings, was responsible for introducing death to the world.

The Creator (Shongwayadihsonh, in Cayuga): The high god of Iroquois mythology, a benevolent teacher and caretaker of the world. In some traditions the Creator is referred to as Orenda or the Great Spirit.

The Thunders (Hadiwennodagyes, in Cayuga): Powerful storm spirits who live in the sky and cause thunder and lightning. Although they are dangerous beings and their gaze can bring death to mortal men, they usually play a positive role in Cayuga legends and are typically portrayed as honorable and fair.

Onatah: Spirit of the Corn, a fertility goddess and one of the Three Sisters of Cayuga agriculture.

Stone-Throwers (Jigahenh, in Cayuga): Little people of Iroquoian folklore. They are dwarf-like nature spirits about 2 feet tall.

Stonecoats (Ganehwa:s, in Cayuga): Mythological giants of the Iroquois tribes, with skin as hard as stone.

Flying Head: Monster in the form of a giant disembodied head, usually created during a particularly violent murder.

Naked Bear (Hnyagwai'go:wah, in Cayuga): A giant, hairless bear monster. Some people associate them with mammoths.

Onyare: A dragon-like horned serpent of the Great Lakes, feared for its habit of capsizing canoes and eating people.

The Great Peacemaker (Hononhsoni:donh) and Hiawatha: The legendary founders of the Iroquois Confederacy and architects of the Great Law.

Dry Fingers (O'nya:ten, in Cayuga): Disembodied mummified arm of Cayuga ghost stories.

Cayuga Indian Folklore

*Iroquois Creation Myth * The Creation:
    The Cayuga story of the creation of the Earth and the origin of humankind.
*The Hunting of the Great Bear:
    Cayuga legend about the origin of a constellation.

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Recommended Books on Cayuga Mythology
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

Midwinter Rites of the Cayuga Long House:
    Book on the mythological traditions, ceremonies, and religious life of the Cayuga Indians.
Iroquois Indian Myths And Legends:
    Collection of legends from the Cayuga and other Iroquois tribes.
The Deetkatoo:
    Great collection of traditional tales about little people from the Cayuga and other tribes.

Additional Resources

 Longhouse Religion
 Iroquois mythology
 Books of Native American myth
 Native American beliefs and values
 Cayuga Native Americans
 Indian reservations in New York
 The Eastern Woodlands
 Iroquois Confederacy
 Seneca Cayuga tribe
 Native American cultures and traditions

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