Characteristics of the Oral Tradition:

  • Formation of the world through struggle and robbery (Pacific Coast).

  • Movement from a sky world to a water world by means of a fall (Iroquoian).

  • Fortunate fall; creation story.

  • Earth-diver myth--world flood after the creation.

  • Theft of fire.

  • Emergence and migration myths--ascent of being from the underworld.

  • Beings are animal spirits in human form; monsters are confusions of nature.

  • Culture hero orders the world, turns animal people into animals; other beings become landmarks.

  • Trickster heroes (raven, spider) provide disorder and change, and are reminders of the seamy and artificial sides of life.



Dekanawiday: "The Iroquois Constitution"

(Smoke Signals movie excerpt -- The Indian Oral Tradition)


"Rabbit's Short Tail"

(Cherokee Storyteller Gregg Howard)

APACHE: "Apache Creation Story"

ALGONQUIAN: "The Dream Fast"

BLACKFOOT: "How the Old Man Made People"

CHEROKEE: "Legend of the Cedar Tree"

CHEYENNE: "Race with Buffalo"

CHOCTAW: "Grandmother Spider Steals the Fire"

COMANCHE: "How the Buffalo Were Released on Earth"

CREEK: " How Rabbit Brought Fire to the People"

FLATHEAD: "Coyote and the Monsters of the Bitterroot Valley"

HOPI: "How the Hopi Indians Reached Their World"

IROQUOIS: "Spring Defeats Winter"

LAKOTA: "Origin of the Lakota Peace Pipe"

LENNI LENAPE: "Mother Corn"

MODOC: "How Old Age Came into the World"

NAVAJO: "The Son, Moon and Stars"

NEZ PERCE: "Yellow Jacket and Ant"

OJIBWA: "Great Serpent and the Great Flood"

ONONDOGA: "The Earth on the Turtle's Back"

PAWNEE: "Making the Sacred Bundle"

SENECA: "The Origin of Stories"

SIOUX: "The Resurrection of the only Daughter"

Page updated 6/08/2016.