American Indian crafts
American Indian "Poor Boy" Heroes of Myth and Legend
List of Native American Poor Boy Heroes
One popular type of folk hero in Plateau and Plains Indian traditions is the Poor Boy, a neglected or mistreated
child who grows up to become a great chief. Sometimes his origin story is mysterious (such as springing to life
from a clot of blood or descending from the heavens,) and other times it is simple (such as an orphan being
raised by a poor old woman.) The other villagers behave shamefully towards the Poor Boy and his adopted
mother/grandmother, frequently ridiculing them, refusing to share food with them, or even physically abusing
them. Eventually the tribe begins to suffer from natural disasters or monster depredations, and it is the Poor Boy
who saves them, winning the respect of all, the leadership of the tribe, and/or the hand of the young lady
he is enamored of.
The name of the Poor Boy hero frequently changes over the course of the story-- in the beginning of the story
he often has an insulting nickname, and at the end of the story he has assumed a chiefly name. He is usually
best known by his original name, though.
Blood-Clot Boy (Blackfoot)
Burnt Belly (Pawnee)
Dirty Boy (Interior Salish)
Rabbit Boy (Sioux)
Native American Hero Stories
Blood Clot Boy Kut-o'-yis:
Blackfoot saga of the hero Kutoyis (Blood Clot Boy).
Lakota Sioux legend about a powerful young hero raised by rabbits.
Okanagan legend about a poor boy who marries the chief's daughter.
Recommended Books about Heroes in Plains Indian Mythology
Mythology of the Blackfoot Indians:
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links
Collection of traditional Blackfoot legends and folktales.
Indian Legends from the Northern Rockies:
Anthology of folklore from the Blackfoot and other Northern Plains tribes.
Spirits, Heroes & Hunters from North American Indian Mythology:
Illustrated collection of Native American hero myths from many different tribes.
Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2020 Contacts and FAQ page
Back to Native American mythological figures
Back to Native American mythology stories
Back to Native American gods
American Indian names
American Indian jewelry
Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered American Indian languages?