Native Languages of the Americas: Heiltsuk/Bella Bella Legends, Myths, and Stories
This is our collection of links to Heiltsuk folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our American Indian lore 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 Bella Bellas, the traditional stories of
related tribes like the Haisla
and Tsimshian are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Heiltsuk legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please let us know.
The Transformer (Qanekelak in the Heiltsuk language,
also known as the Changer or Reformer):
A mythic figure common to many Northwestern tribes, who brought balance to the
world by using his powers to change people, animals, and the landscape into the forms they have today.
Raven or Real Chief (He'mask.as):
Raven is the culture hero of Bella Bella mythology.
He is a revered and benevolent figure who helps the people,
but at the same time, he is also a trickster spirit and many Bella Bella legends about Raven have to do with
his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble.
Mink is another Heiltsuk trickster character. Indeed, some of Raven's more light-hearted adventures are sometimes told with
Mink as the protagonist instead. However, compared with Raven, Mink is a more negative character who primarily embodies
traits that are looked down upon by the Heiltsuk people (greed, recklessness, arrogance, inappropriate sexual behavior, poor hygiene,
etc.) Bella Bella stories about Mink are often humorous, but also are cautionary tales about how not to behave.