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.
(also spelled Kánekelak, Kanikwi'lakw, Kaniki'lakw, Q!aneqelaku, Q'aneqelakw,
Q!â'nêqi'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 Kwêkwaxâ'wê):
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, Dzô’noqwa, Dzô'noq!wa, D’Sonoqua,
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.