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

This is our collection of links to Miami 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 Miami tribe, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Illini and Chippewas are very similar.

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

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Important Miami Mythological Figures

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

Wisakatchekwa (also spelled Wesokochauqua, and other ways.) Wisakatchekwa is the benevolent culture hero of Illini and Miami myth (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.) His name is pronounced similar to wih-sah-kah-chuck-wah. Wisakatchekwa is the same character as the Cree Whiskey Jack and shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki Kluscap and Anishinabe Nanabush; many of the same stories are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.

Kiche Manetoa (also spelled Kichi Maneto and several other ways.) This means "Great Spirit" in the Miami-Illinois language, and is the Miami name for the Creator (God.) Kiche Manetoa is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in Miami myths. The name is pronounced similar to kih-cheh mah-neh-toh-ah.

Thunder-Being (Ciinkwia): A powerful storm spirit that lives in the sky and causes thunder and lightning. Although they are associated with birds, particularly in artwork, Thunder Beings are described as having human form in most Miami stories.

Maneto: A fearsome horned serpent that lurks in lakes and rivers and eats people. The only thing they fear is thunder, for the Thunder Beings are their sworn enemies and have the ability to strike them dead with thunderbolts.

Payiihsa: Magical little people of the forest, similar to European gnomes or fairies. In most Miami stories, the Little People are portrayed as mischievous but generally benign nature spirits, who may play tricks on people but are not dangerous. In some traditions, they even appear to guide the spirits of the dead along the Milky Way to the afterworld.

Real Lynx (Lenapizka, also known as True Tiger): A powerful underwater monster resembling a giant lynx with antlers and armored scales, which lurks in deep water and causes people to drown.

Piasa Bird: This is not actually a real Miami monster, but a fictional character invented by a white writer of adventure stories in the 1800's. The monster was, however, loosely based in a mishmash of real Native American mythology: an Illinois cliff painting of Lenapizka, a corruption of the Miami name Payiihsa, and the well-known legends from other tribes about Thunderbirds and other giant birds.

Miami Indian Folklore

*Miami-Illinois Indian Legends:
    Online collection of several Illinois and Miami legends.
*Rabbit and Possum:
    Illini-Miami story about how Rabbit got his harelip.
*How Wisakatchekwa Got Into Some Trouble:
    Peoria legends about some of the exploits of the trickster Wisakatchekwa.

Recommended Books on Miami Mythology
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Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Miami and other Algonquian tribes.
Indian Tales:
    Old collection of Shawnee, Wyandot, and Miami folklore.

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Additional Resources

 Mihsihkinaahkwa Miami powwow
 American Indian legends
 American Indian tradition
 Miami Indian tribe
 Miami words
 Indian tribes of Indiana
 Algic language
 Miami culture
 Midwest Native American tribes

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