Native Languages of the Americas: Naskapi and Montagnais Innu Legends, Myths, and Stories
This is our collection of links to Montagnais and Naskapi Innu folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our Native American folktales 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 Innu tribe, the traditional stories of
related tribes like the Cree are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Innu legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please let us know.
Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Innu mythology.
Tshakapesh (also spelled Chakapesh, Chaakaapaas, and other ways):
Tshakapesh (pronounced chuh-kah-pesh) is an Innu folk hero, often referred to as the Man in the Moon in English.
He is generally depicted as a dwarf.
In some Innu stories Tshakapesh acts in a rash or foolish way, but he is always brave and good-hearted and never stays in trouble for long.
(also spelled Uitiko or Windigo.) An evil man-eating spirit. Witikos play the roles of monsters and bogeymen in some Montagnais and Naskapi legends;
in others, Innu people who commit sins (especially selfishness, gluttony, or cannibalism) are turned into a Witiko as punishment.
It is pronounced wee-tee-koh.
(also spelled Kwekwatshew or Carcajou.) This is Wolverine, a conniving sort of character who lies, cheats, is greedy, and basically acts completely
inappropriately by Innu standards-- usually in the funniest possible way. Unlike Wolverine characters in some Algonquian mythologies, Kuekuatsheu
is not malevolent, violent, or dangerous, and Innu stories about him are usually humorous in nature. His name is pronounced similar to
(also spelled Kanipinikassikwew.) In English, his name is translated Caribou Master or Caribou Man. In fact, there are many of these
Animal Master characters in Innu mythology (Toad Master, Porcupine Master, Bear Master, etc.), but Caribou Master is the most powerful and the
one who figures in legends most often.
Memekueshu (or Memegwe'djo):
These are small rock spirits (or "little people") who live in caves or the rocks of remote riverbanks. Memekueshu have narrow faces
and are sometimes also known as the Narrow-Faced Spirits. They are friendly but shy of people and are not usually dangerous, though
they may cause trouble if they are not treated with proper respect. Their name is pronounced similar to may-may-gway-shoo.
Apci'lnis (or Apcinis):
Another race of little people common to Montagnais and Naskapi mythology, these are knee-high dwarves who live in the bush and have magical powers. They are capricious nature spirits;
when they are in good moods they may help the Innu, but when they are in bad moods they may steal, destroy things, or even kidnap
Ayas'i (also spelled Ayasi, Ayassi, Ayas'e, and other ways):
An epic hero who defeats many monsters and changes the form of humans and animals to make life better.
A giant hairless bear monster. Some people associate this creature with ancient mammoths.
Thunder Beings (Nimissuts, Anemistsuts, Nimishchuwets, Nimischuuw, etc.):
Powerful storm spirits that live in the sky and cause thunder and lightning. Although they are associated with birds, particularly in
artwork, Thunder-Beings are described as having human form in Innu stories.