Native Languages of the Americas: Tsimshian Legends and Traditional Stories
This is our collection of links to Tsimshian folktales and traditional stories 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 contact us and let us know.
Raven (Txaamsm or Wigyet):
Raven is the culture hero of the Tsimshian and other Northwest Coast tribes.
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 Raven stories 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."
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.