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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.

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Important Heiltsuk Mythological Figures

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: 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.

Heiltsuk Indian Folklore

The World Is Burnt:
    Heiltsuk legend about Raven foretelling the world fire.
Baxbakwa'lanuxusiwe:
    Bella Bella legend about a clever chief defeating a family of cannibal ogres.

Recommended Books on Heiltsuk Mythology

Bella Bella Texts:
    Traditional Bella Bella Indian stories, in the Heiltsuk language with English translation.
Bella Bella Tales:
    Another old collection of Heiltsuk legends and stories.

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Additional Resources

 Books of Native American myths
 Native American spirituality
 British Columbia people
 Pacific Northwest First Nations
 Northwest Coast crafts
 Wakashan Indians
 Heiltsuk culture
 Native Indian peoples



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