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Native American Legends: Chebbeniathan, the Spider Above

Name: Chebbeniathan
Tribal affiliation: Arapaho
Alternate spellings: Hichaba Nihancan, Hihcebe' Nihoo3oo, Hixcéébe Nixóó3o, Hixcéébe Nihóó3oo, Hixceebe Nihoo3o, Tschaba Nihaathu, Hichchebba Nihawthaw
Pronunciation: similar to hih-chabb-eh-nih-haw-thaw
Also known as: Spider-Above, Creator, Heisonoonin, Our Father
Type: High god, Creator
Related figures in other tribes: Maheu (Cheyenne), Gitchie Manitou (Anishinabe), Tabaldak (Abenaki), Cautantowwit (Narragansett)

Chebbeniathan (or Hichaba Nihancan) means "Spider Above" or "Spider of Heaven" in the Arapaho language, and is the Arapaho name for the Creator (God,) as distinguished from the earthly Nihancan. Sometimes the name is translated in English as "Man Above," since the literal form of a spider is not ascribed to Hichaba Nihancan. Some people believe that Nihancan and Hichaba Nihancan were originally the same mythological entity, and split into two figures after trickster legends were borrowed from the Crow and Sioux.

Spider-Above Stories

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Traditions of the Arapaho:
    Collection of Arapaho legends, stories, and oral history.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Arapaho and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Tell Me, Grandmother
 Arapahoe storytelling
 Arapahoe language
 Colorado Indian tribes
 Great Plains Native Americans

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