Native Languages of the Americas: Sioux Legends and Traditional Stories
This is our collection of links to Sioux folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our American Indian folktales 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 the Dakota and Lakota Sioux tribes, the traditional stories of
the Assiniboine and other Plains Indian tribes are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Sioux legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please contact us and let us know.
Iktomi (also spelled Unktomi or Inktomi,
depending on dialect.)
The trickster figure of the Lakota and Dakota Sioux tribes. His name literally means "spider" and he is sometimes called Spider or Spider-Man in English, but
he is usually depicted as a human man in Sioux legends. Like other Plains Indian trickster figures, Iktomi is a negative role model who behaves
as socially inappropriately as possible by Sioux standards. Most Sioux stories about Iktomi are consequently very funny, ranging from light-hearted fables
about buffoonish behavior to ribald jokes. But sometimes Iktomi's misbehavior is more serious and violent, and the stories become cautionary tales about
the dangers of the world.
Coyote (Mica or Maca, in the Sioux languages.)
Coyote is another traditional trickster figure of the Sioux tribes, and indeed some of the same stories are told with either Iktomi or Coyote
as the protagonist. Coyote is sometimes anthropomorphized into human form and other times depicted in the shape of an actual coyote
(sometimes both within a single story.) Many Sioux stories about Coyote are sexual in nature (we have avoided posting these stories here due to
the large number of children who use our website, but adult students of folklore can consult the excellent book
American Indian Trickster Tales to
learn more about that aspect of Sioux folklore.)
Known in English as the Thunderer or the Thunderbird, Wakinyan is a powerful sky spirit of Sioux mythology.
Wakinyan has the form of a giant bird, with wings that make the sound of thunder and eyes that shoot
lightning. The Sioux Thunderbird is the mortal enemy of the horned serpent Unktehi.
Double Face (Hestovatohkeo'o):
A malevolent monster resembling a man with a second face on the back of his head; a person who makes eye contact with this second
face will be murdered by the monster, who tries many ploys to try to get victims to look at him.