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Native Languages of the Americas:
Tsimshian Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our collection of links to Tsimshian stories and folktales that can be read online. We have indexed our Native American folklore 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 Tsimshian tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Haida and Tlingit are very similar.

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

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Important Tsimshian Mythological Figures

Raven (Txaamsm or Wigyet): Raven is the culture hero of Tsimshian mythology. He is a revered and benevolent transformer figure who helps the people and shapes their world for them, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character, and many Tsimshian stories about Raven have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble. Txaamsm is the hero's personal name and is pronounced similsr to chahm-sum (sometimes also spelled Txa'msem, Txamsem, Txamsen, Chemsem, or other ways) Wigyet is pronounced similar to weeg-yet (sometimes also spelled Wiigyet, Wegyet, or We-gyet) and is an eponym meaning "big man" or "giant." Occasionally he may also be referred to by the name Gaax (pronounced similar to gawkh), which is the literal Tsimshian word for "raven."

Property Woman: A spirit woman with curly hair who brings prosperity to anybody who catches sight of her.

Ba'wis (also spelled Bawus, Ba'os, Ba'oosh, Ba'wes, and other ways): A hairy sasquatch-like creature of the wilderness. It is reclusive and rarely bothers people.

Tsimshian Indian Folklore

*Tsimshian Texts * New Tsimshian Textst:
    Online books of Tsimshian mythology collected by Franz Boas in the early 1900's.
*The Winter Hunters and the Mosquito:
    Tsimshian myth about the origin of mosquitos.
*The Theft of Light * Raven and the Sun * The Theft of Light:
    Tsimshian myths about Raven stealing the sun.
*One Who Walks All Over The Sky: * Walks-All-Over-The-Sky:
    Tsimshian myth about the origin of the sun, the moon, and the night sky.
*The Bear Who Married A Woman:
    Tsimshian legend about a woman who became a bear wife.
*Raven Becomes Voracious:
    Tsimshian myth about how Raven acquired his great appetite.
*The Meeting of the Wild Animals:
    Tsimshian legend about the origin of the seasons.
*Wolf Clan and the Salmon:
    Tsimshian legend about a volcanic eruption caused by disrespect for the salmon.

Recommended Books on Tsimshian Mythology

The Porcupine Hunter and Other Stories:
    Collection of Tsimshian legends and folktales.
Myths and Legends of Alaska:
    Anthology of folklore from the Tsimshian and other Alaskan tribes.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred stories about Raven 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

 Supernatural beliefs of the Tsimshians
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American religions
 Alaska Native culture
 Northwest Coast First Nations
 Pacific Northwest art exhibit
 Wakashan Indians
 Tsimshian culture
 Native American Indian history



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