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Native American Stories About Greed

Greed is a common theme of folktales worldwide, and it is especially prevalent in Native American stories. Most Native American tribes were communal in nature, and individuals who did not share or contribute to the common good were a danger to the survival of all. Even among more materialistic tribes like the cultures of the Northwest Coast, where wealth was considered an admirable goal, generosity was a highly prized value and any character who was stingy with his property was destined for humiliation in Northwest Coast folktales.

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Here is our collection of Native American legends and traditional stories about greed.

Legends About Greed

Gluskonba and the Four Wishes:
    Abenaki Indian story about about a greedy man punished for his materialism, while a humble hunter is rewarded.
*Rabbit Calls a Truce:
    Penobscot story about a gang of weasels and mice defeated by their own greed and selfishness.
The Badger and the Bear:
    Lakota Indian legend about a greedy bear punished for turning on a badger who had shared food with him in his time of need.
*Kamaisani, the stingy one:
    South American Indian myth about a woman whose family ostracized her for her greediness.
*The Silver Pipe:
    New England Indian legend about a greedy woman who tried to steal a medicine pipe from the dead.
*Chahnameed the Glutton:
    Mohegan Indian legend about a greedy trickster who takes more soup than he can eat.
*A Mashpee Ghost Story:
    Wampanoag story about a woman who chose her family over greed.
*The Greedy Maiden:
    Lenape legend about a girl punished for her greed.
*The Lynx Who Ate Himself:
    Innu story about a resourceful woman who tricks a greedy lynx.
*The Seagull and the Whiskey Jacks:
    Chapleau Cree story about seagulls becoming disliked for their greediness.
*The Ghost Stallion:
    Cree legend about a greedy and abusive man punished by a magical horse.
*Grandmother's Creation Story:
    Cree legend about the Creator punishing the people for their greed.
*Old Man and the Women:
    Blackfoot legend about the Trickster making the mistake of trying to select a wife by her apparent wealth.
*Blue Jay And Lizard And The Grizzly-Bears:
    California Indian legend about the destruction of a family of greedy grizzly bears.
*Raven and Mink:
    Athabaskan legend about a greedy trickster trying to trick his hunting partner out of food.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Heetunka's Harvest:
    Children's storybook based on a Dakota Indian legend of a greedy woman punished for stealing from the bean mice.
Nanabosho, Soaring Eagle, and the Great Sturgeon:
    A nice retelling of a Chippewa Indian legend about two greedy fishermen learning lessons.
*The Warrior and the Eagle:
    Lenape legend about an eagle-catcher punished for his greed.

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