Native Languages of the Americas: Quileute Legends
This is our collection of links to Quileute 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
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 Quileute mythology, the traditional stories of
neighboring tribes like the Makah and
Skagit tribes are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Quileute legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please contact us and let us know.
Q'wati (also spelled
K'wati, Kweheti, Kwatee, Q'waeti, K'wa'iti, Qati, Kwati, Qwati, K'wa'iti, and several other ways.)
Q'wati is the benevolent culture hero of Quileute legends, frequently referred to in English as the Transformer.
His name is pronounced similar to kwatt-ee, only the "k" is pronounced further back in the throat than English "k"
and with a catch in the throat after it.
The same character is called Dukwibal or Dokibatt in the Puget Sound Salish tribes, Xelas or Haylas in the Coast
Salish tribes, and Misp' or Musp in the Quinault tribe.
Q'wati is usually credited with creating the Quileute Indian tribe and their neighbors, teaching them right behavior and cultural
skills, and protecting them by changing the environment and getting rid of monsters.
Raven (Bayaq or Bayak,
in the Quileute language.) Raven is the trickster figure of the Quileute legends. The Quileute pronunciation of his name is
similar to bah-yuck. Raven is a clever and generally benign figure who sometimes helps the Quileute tribe, but he also has
many character traits that are viewed negatively in Quileute culture (greed, laziness, arrogance, deceitfulness, and
rudeness) and many Quileute legends and stories have to do with Raven misbehaving and getting into trouble because of it.
Thunderbird (T'ist'ilal or Tistilal,
in the Quileute language.) The Thunderbird is an important figure throughout Northwest Coast mythology. In Quileute, its
name is pronounced similar to tiss-tih-lall. The Thunderbird is described by the Quileutes as a bird large enough to carry
a whale in its claws, whose beating wings make thunder.
Dask'iya (also spelled Dassk'iya, Daskiya,
and other ways.)
Dask'iya is a cannibal ogress in Quileute stories, sometimes known as a "basket ogress" or "basket woman." She is
said to capture children in her basket and carry them home to eat them. Legends about Dask'iya are told to frighten
Quileute children and warn them away from bad behavior. Her name is pronounced similar to dusk-ee-yuh.
No. There are no Quileute legends about "Cold Ones" or other vampires. Stephenie Meyer, the author of the "Twilight" books, has stated that she made
this fictional vampire legend up herself and only had her Quileute character tell it for the purposes of her plot. However, she did base other parts of her
books on real Quileute Indian myths. For example, it is true that according to legend the Quileute tribe is descended from wolves who were changed into men.
Even the tribal name "Quileute" comes from their word for wolf, Kwoli.
What about Apotamkin (or Apotampkin)? Is that really the name of a vampire in Quileute mythology?
No. Apotamkin really is a genuine monster from Native American mythology, which is probably why its name appeared in
the search results while Bella was looking for information about Native American vampires in the movie.
In reality, though, myths about Apotamkin come from the Maliseet and Passamaquoddy tribes, who live on the east coast
(thousands of miles from the Quileutes.) Also, Apotamkin was not actually a vampire
in real Native American legends. It was a sea serpent. You can read some more about
Apotamkin at this link: Apotamkin.