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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.

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Important Innu Mythological Figures

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.

Witiko (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.

Kuekuatsheu (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 kway-kwah-choo.

Kanipinikassikueu (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 children.

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.

Katshituasku: 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.

Innu Indian Folklore

*Tshakapesh and the Elephant Monster:
    Innu myth about the birth and first adventure of the culture hero Tshakapesh.
*Maminteu:
    Montagnais legend about an Innu band menaced by a group of man-eating monsters.
*The Lynx Who Ate Himself:
    Humorous Montagnais story about a woman who tricks a greedy lynx.
*Mashkussuts:
    Innu legend about two bear cubs escaping from a cannibal monster.
*Spirit Mountain at Muskrat Falls:
    Two Innu stories about an evil ice-breaking creature called Uentshukumishiteu.
*A Fish Story:
    Innu legend about a boy captured by the fish people.
Wolverine Invited the Birds to the Drum Dance:
    Innu Indian story about Kuekuatseu tricking a group of gullible ducks and geese.
*Messou and the Flood:
    Montagnais myths about the flooding and restoring of the world.

Recommended Books on Innu Mythology

Wolverine Creates The World:
    Collection of Innu legends and folktales from Labrador.
Legends Of The Mushuau Innu: People Of The Barrens:
    Audio CD of Innu storytelling for sale online.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Naskapi and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Innu animal masters
 Books of Native American legends
 Native religion
 Naskapi Indian language
 Quebec First Nations
 Subarctic people
 Algonquian tribes
 Native websites



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