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Legendary Native American Figures: Nixant (Nihant)
Tribal affiliation: Gros Ventre
Alternate spellings: Nihaat, Nihant, Nix'ant, Nihehat, Ni:hehat, Nihata, Nihat'a
Pronunciation: nih-hawt or nih-hawt-ah
Also known as: White Man
Type: Culture hero,
Related figures in other tribes: Nihancan (Arapaho),
Nixant is the spider trickster of the Gros Ventre tribe. It is properly spelled Nihaat in Gros Ventre.
Nixant is an interesting figure-- in some tales he plays the typical trickster/transformer role
common to Algonquian tribes, making more or less benign mischief and shaping the world for the
Gros Ventres as he goes.
But in other tales, Nixant is depicted as a more violent, anti-social trickster type similar to
Siouan spider spirits like Iktomi.
The literal meaning of the character's Gros Ventre name is "Spider." It is given as "White Man"
in many older translations,
but this is a misleading translation-- the Gros Ventres named white people after Nihaat,
not vice versa! It doesn't literally mean "white."
Shared Symbols, Contested Meanings:
Interesting book about Gros Ventre culture, history, and religious traditions.
Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies:
Anthology of folklore from the Gros Ventre and other Northern Plains tribes.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
Compilation of more than a hundred Nixant and other trickster stories from many different tribes.
Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.
The Seven Visions of Bull Lodge
Gros Ventre myths
Gros Ventre language
Gros Ventre words
Native American Plains Indians
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