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Native Languages of the Americas:
Kwakiutl Indian Legends (Kwakwaka'wakw)

This is our collection of links to Kwakiutl folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our Native American stories 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 Kwakiutls, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Nootka and Heiltsuk tribes are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Kwakiutl legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Kwakiutl Mythological Figures

Kanekelak (also spelled Knekelak, Kanikwi'lakw, Kaniki'lakw, Q!aneqelaku, Q'aneqelakw, Q!'nqi'laxu, K'anig yilak', and other ways): The Transformer figure of Kwakwaka'wakw mythology, who brought balance to the world by using his powers to change people, animals, and the landscape into the forms they have today.

Raven (Kwekwaxa'we in the Kwakiutl language, also spelled Kewkwaxa'we or Kwkwax'w): Raven is the culture hero of the Kwakiutl and other Northwest Coast tribes. He is a benevolent figure who helps the people, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Kwakwaka'wakw stories about Raven have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble.

Tsunukwa (also spelled Dzunukwa, Dzoo-noo-qua, Dzoonokwa, Dsonoqua, Dznoqwa, Dz'noq!wa, DSonoqua, and other ways): The Basket Ogress, a giant cannibal monster who catches human children and carries them off in her enormous pack basket.

Bukwus (also spelled Bakwas, Bookwus, Bukwis, Buk'wus, Pugwis, Pu Gwis, Pu'gwis, and other ways): A skeletal, long-haired wild man of Kwakiutl legend. Bukwus is sometimes mistakenly identified with the Salishan Sasquatch, but the two creatures are extremely different-- Bukwus is actually a ghost associated with drowning victims (sometimes known as the "King of Ghosts" or "Man of the Sea"), who tries to tempt humans into eating ghost food and therefore becoming bukwus themselves.

Kwakiutl Indian Folklore

*Transforming Beings:
    An overview of Kwak'wala and other Northwest Coast Indian storytelling and myth..
*Kwakwaka'wakw Origins:
    Origin stories of the Kwakwaka'wakw tribes.
*Kwakiutl Tales:
    Collection of Kwakiutl legends and folktales.
*The First Totem Pole * Wakiash and the First Totem Pole: * Pole That Holds the Sky:
    Kwakiutl legends about the origins of totem poles.
*Bakwas * Bookwus:
    Legends about Bookwus, the Kwakwala wild man.
*Legends and Folklore of the Northern Lights:
    Aurora Borealis stories from the Kwakiutl, Tlingit, Makah, and Inuit.

Recommended Books on Kwakiutl Mythology

Kwakiutl Legends:
    Book of Kwakiutl myths and folktales.

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Additional Resources

 Kwakiutl religion and expressive traditions
 Kwak'wala words
 Books of Native American legends
 Indian religion
 British Columbia Natives
 Northwest Coast people
 Northwest Coast art
 Wakashan tribes
 Kwakiutl culture
 Native peoples



Back to the Indian gods and spirits list
Read some American Indian poems
Learn more about the Kwakiutl people.



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