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Legendary Native American Figures: Flying Head (Big Heads)

Name: Flying Head
Also Known As: Whirlwind, Big Head
Tribal affiliation: Iroquois, Wyandot
Native names: Kanontsistóntie's; Kunenhrayenhnenh, Kwennenhrayenhnenh, Konearaunehneh, Unenhrayenhnenh, Ko-nea-rau-neh-neh; Ro-nea-rau-yeh-ne; Dagwanoeient, Dagwanoenyent, Dagwanoenyent gowa, Daqqanoenyent, Dagwûn'noyaênt
Type: Monster, undead creature
Related figures in other tribes: Rolling Head (Plains tribes)

Flying Heads are undead monsters from the legends of the Iroquois tribes. The Flying Head appears as a huge, disembodied head with fiery eyes and long, tangled hair. They fly through the air, pursuing humans to chase and devour.

The origins of Flying Heads vary greatly from story to story. In some tales, a Flying Head is created from a violent murder scene-- the severed head of a victim grows to enormous size, or the head emerges from a mass grave. In others, a human is transformed into a Flying Head after committing an act of cannibalism. In many stories, the origin of Flying Heads is not remarked on at all-- they are primordial monsters whose nature is to eat humans, but occasionally have other motivations of their own.

Flying Heads are associated with whirlwinds in many Iroquois communities. Names such as Kanontsistóntie's and Kunenhrayenhnenh mean "flying head," while names such as Dagwanoenyent literally mean "whirlwind."

Native American Flying Head Stories

*The Flying Head * The Flying Head Story:
    Iroquois legends about a woman who defeats a Flying Head.
*Dagwanoenyent:
    Seneca story about a Flying Head monster defeating a pair of witches.

Recommended Books Including Stories About Flying Heads

When the Chenoo Howls: Native American Tales of Terror:
    Collection of horror stories about the Flying Head and other Native American monsters, told by an Abenaki Indian storyteller.
Legends of the Iroquois:
    A good book of Iroquois stories told by a Mohawk elder, including one about the Flying Head.
Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois:
    Wonderful illustrated collection of Iroquois Indian legends, by two Native authors.
Legends, Traditions and Laws of the Iroquois or Six Nations:
    Iroquois mythology and oral history told by a 19th-century Tuscarora chief, including a Flying Head illustration.

Additional Resources

 Iroquois myths
 Wyandot myths
 Eastern Woodland languages



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