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Native Languages of the Americas:
Onondaga Indian Legends

This is our collection of links to Onondaga folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our Indian stories section by tribe to make them easier to locate; however, variants on the same story are often told by American Indians from different tribes, especially if those tribes are kinfolk or neighbors to each other, so you may also want to visit our page comparing the stories from the Iroquois tribes (which include the Seneca, Oneida, Cayuga, Mohawk, and Onondaga Indians), since the traditional stories of those tribes are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Onondaga legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Onondaga Mythological Figures

Sky-Woman: The mother goddess of the Iroquois tribes, said to have fallen through a hole in the sky.

The Twin Gods: Sky Woman's twin grandsons, Sapling (Otentonnia) and Flint (Tawiskaron.) These twin deities were the creators and culture heroes of the Iroquois people. Sapling was the god of life and created many things to help humankind; his twin Flint was the god of death and primarily caused destruction.

Sky-Holder (Thaenhya:wa'gih, in Onondaga): The high god of Iroquois mythology, a benevolent teacher and caretaker of the world. In some Onondaga communities Sky-Holder is considered the same entity as Sapling, while in others, they are considered to be distinct.

The Thunders (Hadiwennoda:dye's, in Onondaga): Powerful storm spirits who live in the sky and cause thunder and lightning. Although they are dangerous beings and their gaze can bring death to mortal men, they usually play a positive role in Onondaga legends and are typically portrayed as honorable and fair.

Onatah: Spirit of the Corn, a fertility goddess and one of the Three Sisters of Onondaga agriculture.

Stone-Throwers: Little people of Iroquoian folklore. They are dwarf-like nature spirits about 2 feet tall.

Stone Coats (Otneyarhed, in Onondaga): Mythological giants of the Iroquois tribes, with skin as hard as stone.

Flying Head: Monster in the form of a giant disembodied head, usually created during a particularly violent murder.

Onyare: A dragon-like horned serpent of the Great Lakes, feared for its habit of capsizing canoes and eating people.

The Peacemaker and Hiawatha: The legendary founders of the Iroquois Confederacy and architects of the Great Law.

Onondaga Indian Folklore

*Iroquoian Cosmogony:
    The Onondaga creation myth.
*Origin of the Pleiades:
    Onondaga version of a typical Iroquois legend about children who became stars.

Recommended Books on Onondaga Mythology

Iroquois Indian Myths And Legends:
    Collection of legends from the Onondaga and other Iroquois tribes.
Skywoman: Legends of the Iroquois:
    Wonderful illustrated collection of Iroquois legends by two Native authors.

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Additional Resources

 Onondaga religion and expressive traditions
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American spirituality
 Iroquoian language
 Onondaga culture
 New York Native Americans
 Woodland tribes
 Iroquois Confederacy
 Native American websites for kids

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