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Native Languages of the Americas:
Southeast American Indian Legends

This is our collection of links to Southeast Indian folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our Native American legends 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. On this page, we have included myths and legends from the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek, Seminole, Alabama, Koasati, Caddo, and Natchez tribes. These tribes of the Southeastern Woodlands are culturally distinct but do share many cultural similarities, including much of their folklore.

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

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Important Southeast Indian Mythological Figures

Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Southeastern Indian mythology.

Trickster Rabbit (Jisdu or Chokfi): Rabbit is the trickster figure in the folklore of many Southeastern tribes, especially the Cherokee and Muskogean tribes.

Little People (Yunwi Tsunsdi, Kowi Anukasha, etc): Stories about races of small magical people are popular in the legends of most Southeast Native Americans. Although these little people can be dangerous, they are not usually violent unless provoked and sometimes help distressed humans or bestow powers on people who treat them kindly.

Big Man-Eater: A giant cannibal monster common to southeastern Indian legends. Modern people in the Alabama and Koasati tribes identify them with elephants; some people believe stories about them may have been based on fossils or prehistoric depictions of mammoths. In other southeast tribes, Big Man-Eater is described as a big cat or a giant humanoid.

Tlanuwa: Giant mythological birds of prey with impenetrable metal feathers, common to the mythology of many Southeastern tribes. Their Cherokee name is pronounced tlah-noo-wah.

Tie-Snakes. These are mythological water spirits common to the folklore of Southeastern tribes. They are the size and shape of an ordinary snake, but have immense strength. Tie-Snakes were said to live underwater and were feared for their ability to catch humans and drag them underwater to drown.

Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away (or Lodge Boy and Wild Boy.) These mythical twins, born when their pregnant mother was killed by a monster, are common to the folklore of many Midwestern and Eastern tribes. Particularly in the Southeastern tribes, they are generally portrayed as rowdy monster-slayers who cause a lot of trouble during the course of their adventures.

Southeast Indian Folklore

*Myths and Tales of the Southeastern Indians:
    E-book of Swanton's 1929 collection of Southeastern legends.
*Choctaw Flood Legends * Flood Myth * The Deluge * Creek Flood Myth * The Dog and the Flood:
    Southeast Indian stories about the Great Flood.
*Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire * Grandmother Spider Steals The Sun * Spider and the Sun:
    Cherokee and Choctaw versions of a typical Southeastern myth about the origin of light.
The Bungling Host * Rabbit and Bear * Doctor Buzzard:
    Stories from various southeastern tribes, in which Rabbit unsuccessfully tries to mimic medicine powers he does not
    understand and is ultimately killed by Buzzard.
*Why the Possum's Tail is Bare * Why The Opossum's Tail Is Bare * How Rabbit Fooled Wolf * How Rabbit Fooled Alligator:
    Southeastern legends about Rabbit playing tricks on other animals.
*Choctaw Little People * Tsvdigewi:
    Southeastern stories about the Little People.
*Why Bats Are Classified As Animals * Story of the Bat:
    Muskogean legends about a ball game between the birds and land animals.
*The Origin of Fire * How Fire Came:
    Alabama and Coushatta myths about how humans won fire from the bear.
*How Day and Night Were Divided* How Day and Night Were Divided* Legend of the Cedar Tree:
    Southeastern myths about the creation of days.
*Kanati and Selu * The Origin of Game and Corn * Kanati the Hunter * Origins of Corn * Corn-Woman's Son * The Origin of Corn:
    Southeastern myths about Corn Woman and the beginning of agriculture.
*Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away * Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away:
    Southeast legends about the heroes Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away.
*The Celestial Canoe * The Celestial Skiff:
    Southeast Indian legends about a man who married a sky-maiden.

Recommended Books on Southeastern Indian Mythology

Southeastern Native American Legends:
    Book comparing the traditional stories of the Southeast tribes.
The Great Ball Game:
    Picture book illustrating a Creek legend about a contest between the animals and the birds.
Rabbit Goes Duck Hunting * How Rabbit Lost His Tail * Rabbit and the Wolves * Rabbit and the Well:
    A series of Cherokee legends about the trickster Rabbit getting into and out of trouble.

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Additional Resources

 Southeastern Woodlands languages



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