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Native American Legends: Ixtcibenihehat (Spider of Heaven)

Name: Ixtcibenihehat
Tribal affiliation: Gros Ventre
Alternate spellings: Ihityebi-Nihaat , Ihichebi-Nihant, Ihcebe-Nihat
Pronunciation: similar to ih-hih-cheh-bih-nih-hawt
Also known as: Spider of Heaven, Man Above, Creator, Chebbeniathan
Type: High god, Creator
Related figures in other tribes: Maheo (Cheyenne), Gitchie Manitou (Anishinabe), Tabaldak (Abenaki), Gisoolg (Mi'kmaq)

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

Man Above Stories

The Creation of the World:
    Gros Ventre myth about Man Above and the origin of the earth.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Shared Symbols, Contested Meanings:
    Interesting book about Gros Ventre culture, history, and religious traditions.
Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies:
    Anthology of folklore from the Gros Ventre and other Northern Plains tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Gros Ventre stories
 Gros Ventre language
 Montana Indians
 Great Plains Indian languages
 Algonkian language

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Learn more about the Gros Ventre people.

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