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Legendary Native American Figures: Iktomi (Inktomi)

Name: Iktomi
Also spelled: Inktomi, Iktome, Unktomi
Tribal affiliation: Sioux
Pronunciation: usually eek-toh-mee, although there are other dialect variants
Also known as: Spider-Man
Type: Trickster, spider
Related figures in other tribes: Veeho (Cheyenne), Nihansan (Arapaho), Nihant (Gros Ventre)

Iktomi is the trickster figure of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota Sioux tribes. The name "Iktomi" literally means "spider," and he is sometimes called Spider or Spider-Man in English, but he is usually depicted as a human man in Sioux legends. Like many Plains Indian trickster figures, Iktomi is a negative role model who behaves as socially inappropriately as possible by Sioux standards. Most Sioux stories about Iktomi are consequently very funny, ranging from light-hearted fables about buffoonish behavior to ribald jokes. But sometimes Iktomi's misbehavior is more serious and violent, and the stories become cautionary tales about the dangers of the world.

Iktomi Stories

Iktome and Rabbit Boy:
    Lakota Indian legend about Iktome unsuccessfully trying to murder a powerful young hero.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Iktomi and the Ducks:
    Lively retelling of a Sioux tale about the trickster Iktomi outwitting a group of gullible ducks.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Great compilation of more than a hundred Iktomi and other trickster stories from many different tribes.
    Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.

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Additional Resources

 Singing for a Spirit
 Lakota and Dakota legends
 Sioux language
 Lakota words
 Minnesota Indian tribes
 Plains Indian cultures

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