Native Languages of the Americas: Miami Legends, Myths and Stories
This is our collection of links to Miami folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our Native American folklore 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 Miami tribe, the traditional stories of
related tribes like the
Illini and Menominee are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Miami 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 Miami mythology.
(also spelled Wesokochauqua, and other ways.)
Wisakatchekwa is the benevolent culture hero of Illini and Miami myth (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.)
His name is pronounced similar to wih-sah-kah-chuck-wah. Wisakatchekwa is the same character as the Cree
Wisakejak and shares some
similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki
Kluskap, and Anishinabe
Nanabush; many of the same stories
are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.
(also spelled Kichi Maneto and several other ways.)
This means "Great Spirit" in the Miami-Illinois language, and is the Miami name for the Creator (God.) Kiche Manetoa
is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in Miami myths. The name is pronounced
similar to kih-cheh mah-neh-toh-ah.
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 most Miami stories.
A fearsome horned serpent that lurks in lakes and rivers and eats people. The only thing they fear is thunder, for the Thunder Beings are
their sworn enemies and have the ability to strike them dead with thunderbolts.
Magical little people of the forest, similar to European gnomes or fairies.
In most Miami stories, the Little People are portrayed as mischievous but generally benign nature spirits, who may play
tricks on people but are not dangerous. In some traditions, they even appear to guide the spirits of the dead along the Milky Way
to the afterworld.
Real Lynx (Lenapizka, also known as True Tiger):
A powerful underwater monster resembling a giant lynx with antlers and armored scales, which lurks in deep water and causes
people to drown.
This is not actually a real Miami monster, but a fictional character invented by a white writer of adventure stories in the 1800's.
The monster was, however, loosely based in a mishmash of real Native American mythology: an Illinois cliff painting of Lenapizka,
a corruption of the Miami name Payiihsa, and the well-known legends from other tribes about Thunderbirds and other giant birds.