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Native American Legends: Stick Indians

Name: Stick Indians
Tribal affiliation: Salish, Lummi, Yakama, Cayuse
Type: Antagonists, monsters, bigfeet

In the traditions of many Salish and other Northwest Indian tribes, Stick Indians are malevolent and extremely dangerous forest spirits. Details about Stick Indians vary from tribe to tribe (they are described as large, hairy bigfoot-like creatures by the Salish, and as forest dwarves by the Cayuse and Yakama.) In some traditions Stick Indians have powers to paralyze, hypnotize, or cause insanity in hapless humans, while in others, they merely lead people astray by making eerie sounds of whistling or laughter in the woods at night. In some stories Stick Indians may eat people who fall prey to them, kidnap children, or molest women. They also take aggressive revenge against people who injure or disrespect them, no matter how unintentionally.

Not too many traditional legends regarding Stick Indians have been recorded, in part due to taboos related to these deadly creatures. "Stick Indians" is an English euphemism; saying the actual Salish names of these beings in public is considered to be provoking their attacks in some tribes, a belief many Native people still adhere to today, choosing to refer to them only in English (if at all.)

Stick Indian Stories

The Story of Stick Indians or Tsiatko:
    Legends about the Stick Indians from the Puyallup tribe.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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In the Shadows of Mountains:
    Collection of legends from the Copper River Ahtna tribe.
Our Voices: Native Stories of Alaska and the Yukon:
    Collection of legends and oral history from the Athabaskan tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Salish legends
 Yakama legends
 Puget Sound Salish tribes
 Washington Native American culture
 Northwest Native American tribes
 Northwest Native American artwork
 Salish language family

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