Native American cultures
Native American Indian tribes
Native American Legends: Naked Bear (Nyah-Gwaheh)
Name: Naked Bear
Tribal affiliation: Seneca,
Native names: Nyah-gwaheh, Nia'gwahe:, Nya'kwaehe:h, Niagwahe, Ganiagwaihegowa, Ganiagwaihe, Nya'kwaeheko:wa:h,
Niagwaihegowa, Nyah-gwa-ih-heh-go-wah, Hnyagwai'go:wah; Uya'kwaher, Oyahguaharh, Oyalkquoher, Oyalquarkeror,
Pronunciation: varies by tribe: usually nyah-gwah-heh or gah-nyah-gweah-heh-goh-wah
Also known as: Great Bear, Mammoth Bear, Monster Bear, Big Naked Bear, Great Naked Bear, Furless Bear
Related figures in other tribes: Yakwawi,
Naked Bear was described as a monstrous, man-eating creature resembling an enormous bear with
no fur and an oversized head.
Its Iroquois names literally mean "great bear." According to some stories, this monstrous bear is hairless because its fur falls
out as a result of eating human flesh. Naked Bears are nearly invincible to human attacks but can be killed by shooting arrows into
the soles of their feet.
Some folklorists believe the Naked Bear may have been inspired by mammoths or mastodon fossils. You can visit our
stiff-legged bear site to read some opinions about that.
Naked Bear Stories
The Hunting of The Great Bear The Monster Bear:
Iroquois legend about the celestial hunt for Nyah-Gwaheh, the Monster Bear.
Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
The Naked Bear: Folktales of the Iroquois:
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links
Book of Iroquois Indian stories including two about Naked Bear.
When the Chenoo Howls: Native American Tales of Terror:
Spooky collection of Native American ghost stories and monster tales, told by a Native storyteller.
Legends, Traditions and Laws of the Iroquois or Six Nations:
Iroquois mythology and oral history told by a 19th-century Tuscarora chief.
New York languages
Eastern Woodlands peoples
Iroquoian language family
Native Languages of the Americas website © 1998-2020 Contacts and FAQ page
Back to American Indian Characters
Back to American Indian Myths
Learn more about the Iroquois tribe.
Indian moccasin boots for women
Would you like to help support our organization's work with endangered American Indian languages?