Native Languages of the Americas: Tsalagi/Cherokee Legends, Myths, and Stories
This is our collection of links to Cherokee folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our Native American legends 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 Cherokee tribe, the traditional stories of
related tribes like the
Iroquois and Creeks are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Cherokee legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please contact us and let us know.
This is the Cherokee word for God.
Sometimes Cherokee people today also refer to the Creator as the "Great Spirit," a phrase which was
borrowed from other tribes of Oklahoma. Unetlanvhi is considered to be a divine spirit with no
human form or attributes and is not normally personified in Cherokee myths. The name is pronounced
similar to oo-net-la-nuh-hee. Sometimes another name such as Galvladi'ehi ("Heavenly One") or
Ouga ("Ruler," also spelled Ugv or Ugu) is used instead.
Rabbit, the trickster figure in the folklore of the Cherokee and other Southeastern tribes.
His Cherokee name is pronounced similar to jeese-doo.
A dragon-like horned serpent of Cherokee legend. The first Uktena was said to be transformed from
a human man in a failed assassination attempt on the sun. Most other Cherokee tales about Uktena have to do with
Cherokee heroes slaying one. They are malevolent and deadly monsters. Their name is pronounced
(Aniyvdaqualosgi or Ani-Yuntikwalaski):
Storm spirits who live in the sky and command thunder and lightning. In Cherokee legends the Thunderers are human in form,
unlike many tribes where thunder spirits appear as birds. Cherokee Thunderers are powerful and dangerous, but generally benign
and friendly to humans.
Giant mythological birds of prey with impenetrable
metal feathers, common to the mythology of many Southeastern tribes. Their Cherokee name is pronounced
A race of small humanoid nature spirits, sometimes referred to in English as "dwarves"
or "fairies." They are usually invisible but sometimes reveal themselves as miniature child-sized people.
Yunwi Tsunsdi are benevolent creatures who frequently help humans in Cherokee stories, but they have magical powers
and are said to harshly punish people who are disrespectful or aggressive towards them. Their
name is pronounced similar to yun-wee joon-stee (or yun-wee joon-stee-gah,) which literally means
"little people." The singular form is Yvwi Usdi (pronounced yun-wee oon-stee.)
(Travelers): Another supernatural spirit race
which is friendly towards humans, particularly towards the Cherokee tribe. Nunnehi are very strong
and sometimes intercede in battle on the Cherokees' behalf. Like Little People, Nunnehi are usually
invisible but sometimes show themselves to humans they like (appearing as regal looking human
warriors.) Their name is pronounced similar to nun-nay-hee.