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Native Languages of the Americas:
Lakota and Dakota Sioux Legends, Myths, and 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 mythology, the traditional stories of other Plains Indian tribes like the Assiniboine and Omaha 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 let us know.

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Important Sioux Mythological Figures

Iktomi (also spelled Unktomi or Inktomi, depending on dialect.) The trickster figure of Lakota and Dakota Sioux myths. 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 Sioux mythology, 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.)

Wakan Tanka: The great Creator power of Sioux cosmology. Literally it means "Great Mystery." Originally Wakan-Tanka was an abstract creative force who was never personified in Sioux legends, but after the introduction of Christianity some Native people began using it as the Sioux name of God.

White Buffalo Calf Woman (Ptesan-Wi): A sacred culture hero of the Sioux tribes. She brought the sacred pipe to the Sioux people, and taught them many of the arts of civilization.

Thunderer (Wakinyan): Known in English as the Thunderer or the Thunderbird, Wakinyan is a powerful sky spirit of Sioux Indian legends. 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.

Unktehi: The great horned serpent of Sioux mythology, mortal enemy of the Thunderbird.

Inyan: Primordial stone spirit of Sioux mythology.

Rabbit Boy: A folk hero of Sioux mythology, born from a clot of blood and raised by rabbits.

Double Face (Hestovatohkeo'o): A malevolent monster resembling a man with a second face on the back of his head. According to Lakota and Dakota folklore, 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.

Canoti: Fairy-like little people of Sioux folklore.

Chiye-Tanka: Bigfoot-like woodland spirit of Sioux folklore.

Sioux Indian Folklore

*Myths and Legends of the Sioux:
    Online book of Dakota legends recorded in the early 1900's.
*Zitkala-Sa's Book of Sioux Legends:
    Classic collection of Lakota legends told by author Zitkala-Sa in 1901.
*Remaking the World * How The Sioux Came To Be:
    Lakota Sioux myths about the Great Flood.
*A Teton Ghost Story:
    Lakota story about a man who married a ghost woman.
*How Grandfather Peyote Came to the People:
    Lakota myth about the origins of the peyote religion.
*The Snake Brothers:
    Lakota Sioux legend about three men who were turned into snakes.
*The Man Who Was Afraid of Nothing:
    A funny Lakota ghost story.
*The Ghost Wife:
    Lakota Sioux story about a man who brought his wife back from the land of the dead.
*Uncegila's Seventh Spot:
    Lakota Indian legend about the water monster Uncegila.
*Stone Boy:
    Lakota legend about a young hero born from a rock.
*Wakinyan Tanka, the Great Thunderbird:
    Lakota Sioux legends about thunderbirds.
*A Legend Of Devil's Tower:
    Brule Sioux legend about the origin of the Devil's Tower landform.
*The Vision Quest:
    Lakota Indian story about a young man learning humility.
*Tatanka Iyotake's Dancing Horse:
    Lakota legends about the death of the great leader Sitting Bull.
*The Dogs hold an Election:
    Humorous Lakota story about how dogs choose their leaders.
*Sioux Creation Myth:
    Dakota story of the origin of the world.
*Origin of the Lakota Peace Pipe:
    Lakota myth of the White Buffalo Woman and the sacred pipe.
*The Resuscitation of the Only Daughter:
    Sioux legend about a girl who came back from the dead.
*Coyote, Iktome, and Rock:
    Lakota version of a classic Plains Indian legend about Coyote trying to take back a gift to the spirits.
*Brave Woman Counts Coup:
    Lakota legend about a female warrior who led her people to victory.
*Rabbit Boy:
    Lakota legend about Iktome unsuccessfully trying to murder a powerful young hero.
*Weyota and Iktomi:
    Lakota folktales about Blood-Clot Boy.
*Spotted Eagle and Black Crow:
    Lakota legend about an abandoned warrior saved by a family of eagles.
How The Crow Came To Be Black:
    Brule Sioux legend about a nosy crow punished for his interference with a hunter.
The Rabbit and the Elk:
    Sioux story about Elk playing a trick on Rabbit.
*Chief Roman Nose Loses His Medicine:
    Lakota legend about the death of Cheyenne chief Roman Nose.
*The End of the World:
    Lakota Sioux myth about the prophecied end of the world.

Recommended Books on Sioux Mythology
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The Sons of the Wind: The Sacred Stories of the Lakota:
    Collection of Sioux legends told by a Lakota author.
Lakota Myth:
    Book on traditional Lakota mythology, religion, and ritual.
Love Flute:
    Picture book illustrating the Sioux legend of how the elks brought the first courting flute.
Heetunka's Harvest:
    Children's storybook based on the Dakota legend of the bean mice.
Adopted by the Eagles * Spotted Eagle and Black Crow:
    Two illustrated children's books based on Sioux Indian myths about a betrayed hunter rescued by eagles.
Iktomi and the Ducks * Iktomi and the Boulder * Iktomi and the Berries:
    Lively retellings of three Sioux tales about the trickster Iktomi.
*Moonstick: The Seasons of the Sioux:
    Picture book based on the traditional names of moons in the Sioux calendar system.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred stories about Iktomi, Coyote, and other Native American tricksters.
    (Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.)

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Additional Resources

 Sioux religion
 Plains Indian religion
 The Ghost Dance
 Sioux tribe
 Sioux words
 South Dakota Indian reservations
 Plains Native American Indians
 Siouan language family
 Native tribes of North America

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