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Legendary Native American Figures: Inyan

Name: Inyan
Tribal affiliation: Lakota and Dakota Sioux
Alternate spellings: Iya
Pronunciation: een-yahn
Type: Native American stone god

Inyan is the primordial stone spirit of Lakota and Dakota mythology. Sometimes he is also known as Tunkashila or Tunka, "Grandfather." Inyan often represents the traditional ways, justice, and the earth. Some Dakota Sioux legends were recorded in which Inyan was said to be the father of the trickster Iktomi, but these are unusual stories and Inyan is not normally personified in Sioux mythology.

There are also some stories floating around out there claiming that Inyan is a good rock god, while Iya is an evil rock god. This is definitely not the case. Inyan and Iya are exactly the same name-- which literally means "Rock"-- spelled in two different Sioux orthographies (spelling systems.) Like all sacred nature spirits in Lakota and Dakota mythology, Inyan is neither good nor evil... he simply is.

Inyan Stories

*Coyote, Iktome, and the Rock:
    Chickasaw myth about Iya punishing Coyote for his fickleness.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

The Sons of the Wind:
    Good collection of Sioux legends told by a Lakota author.

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Additional Resources

 Singing for a Spirit
 Sioux legends
 Lakota-Dakota language
 Sioux pronunciation
 South Dakota Indian
 Plains American Indian
 Sioux languages

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