American Indian languages * Indian people * What's new on our site today!

Native Languages of the Americas:
Chinook Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our collection of links to Chinook folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed 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 Chinook tribe, the traditional stories of neghboring tribes like the Nootka and Salish tribes are very similar.

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

Sponsored Links

Important Chinook Mythological Figures

Blue-jay: The trickster hero of the Chinook and southern Salishan tribes. Bluejay is generally a benevolent being who is helpful to humankind, but he is also extremely foolish and careless, and Chinook stories about him are often humorous or even slapstick in nature.

Ioi: Blue-jay's long-suffering older sister and the butt of many of his jokes. One of the most common storylines in Chinook legends involves Ioi making reasonable comments to Blue-jay which he then interprets in some ridiculous way (similar to modern Amelia Bedelia stories.) At other times, Ioi gives her brother sensible advice which he tells everyone was his own idea.

Talapus (Coyote): This is another Chinook trickster character. Indeed, some of the same stories were told by Chinook people with either Bluejay or Coyote as the main character. Coyote is the trickster figure of the Interior Salish and Plateau tribes; since the Chinooks were the center of a trade network that included most of the northwestern tribes, it isn't surprising that their mythology absorbed elements from many different tribes.

Shikla: A Transformer figure, common to the mythology of many Northwest Coast tribes, who brought balance to the world by using his powers to change people, animals, and the landscape into the forms they have today.

Boqs (also Siatco, Sasquatch, or Skookum): Large, hairy wild men of the forest. These different names come from different languages of the Chinook trade area. Boqs is the most commonly used one in Chinook folklore (Skookum is also common, but since this word just means "big" or "powerful" in Chinook Jargon, it is used to refer to all sorts of creatures, not just Boqs.) In most traditional Chinook legends, Boqs are dangerous man-eating monsters, however in others, they are more benign like the Halkomelem Sasquatch. This is another example of the Chinooks absorbing different versions of stories from their neighbors and trade partners.

Chinook Indian Folklore

*Chinook Texts:
    Collection of Chinook Indian legends and folktales.
*Legends of Vancouver:
    Collection of Squamish and Chinook legends recorded by a Mohawk author.
*Chinook Creation Story * Origin of the Chinook People:
    Chinook legends about the beginning of the world.
*Blue Jay Visits Ghost Town * Ioi and the Ghost Husband:
    Chinook legends about Bluejay in the Land of the Dead.
*Blue Jay Finds a Wife:
    Chinook legend about the marriage of Blue Jay.
*The First Ship:
    Chinook story about the tribe's first encounter with white men.
*Coyote Builds Willamette Falls and The Magic Fish Trap:
    Two Chinook legends about Coyote.

Sponsored Links

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

Coyote Was Going There: Indian Literature of the Oregon Country:
    Excellent anthology of folklore from the Chinook and other Oregon tribes.
Indian Legends of the Pacific Northwest:
    Collection of legends and folktales from the Chinook and other northwestern tribes.

Additional Resources

 The First Salmon Rite
 Indian beliefs
 Chinook Tribe
 Washington Indian tribes
 The Chinook Jargon
 Penutian tribes
 Northwestern art
 Chinook culture
 Information on Indian cultures

Back to Indian god names
Back to Indian animal spirits
Learn more about the Chinook Indians.

American Indian art * American Indian heritage * Braids * American Indian tattoos

Would you like to help support our organization's work with the Chinook Indian language?

Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2020 * Contacts and FAQ page