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Native Languages of the Americas:
Paiute Indian Legends

This is our collection of links to Paiute folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed our Indian stories 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 Paiutes, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Ute and Shoshone tribes are very similar.

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

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Important Paiute Mythological Figures

Isa/Wolf: Creator and culture hero of the Paiute tribe. Like other figures from the Paiute mythic age, Wolf is usually represented as a man, but sometimes takes on the literal form of a wolf.

Coyote: Wolf's younger brother, Coyote is a trickster spirit. Though he often assists his brother and sometimes even does good deeds for the people, Coyotes behavior is so irresponsible and frivolous that he is constantly getting himself and those around him into trouble.

Nimerigar: A violent race of magical little people who were said to kill and eat people.

Water Babies: Mysterious and dangerous water spirits from the mythology of the Paiute and other Western Indian tribes. They inhabit springs and ponds, and are usually described as water fairies who lead humans to a watery grave by mimicking the sounds of crying babies at night. Sometimes they are said to kill babies and take their place as changelings. In Northern Paiute traditions, respectful treatment and offerings are often considered to ward off violence by the water babies.

Paiute Indian Folklore

*Stone Mother:
    Paiute legend about the origin of Pyramid Lake.
*Why the North Star Stands Still:
    Paiute legend about a mountain sheep who became a star.
    Legend about Coyote's people, the Shoshones and Paiutes.
*Coyote and the Sun:
    Paiute legend about Coyote's trip to the sun.
    Paiute legend about a woman's escape from a cannibal monster.
*Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest:
    Online book about Southwest and California Indian mythology.

Recommended Books on Paiute Mythology
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

Pahute Indian legends:
    Collection of Paiute legends and traditional stories.
Coyote Was Going There: Indian Literature of the Oregon Country:
    Excellent anthology of folklore from the Northern Paiute and other Oregon tribes.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred stories about Coyote and other Native American tricksters.
    (Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.)

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Additional Resources

 Indian spiritual beliefs
 Paiute people
 Paiute language
 Indian tribes of Nevada
 Great Basin Indians
 Uto Aztecan languages
 List of American Indian nations

Back to Native American Indian god names
Learn more about the Paiute Indians
Read some Indian fiction

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