Folktales of the American Indians

As in many cultures, tricksters, lost loves, brave warriors, and pourquoi or "why?" stories make up the fabric of Native American storytelling traditions. To retell these stories for an audience today connects these old ways to the modern world so that their beauty and wisdom need not be forgotten. Click on the regional listing at the bottom of the book's description to get more story choices that fall within the same geographic setting (Arctic, Woodlands, Northwest Coast, Plains, or Southwest).

Two Bad Boys: A Very Old Cherokee Tale

By Gail Haley

Go to catalog

Boy finds his wild brother under the surface of the river and pulls him out onto land, where Wild Boy begins to lead him astray into trouble.

Reserve this title

Tonweya and the Eagles, and Other Lakota Tales

By Rosebud Yellow Robe

Go to catalog

A collection of animal tales first told by the Plains Indians, interwoven with factual information about the Lakota people.

Reserve this title

The Woman Who Fell From the Sky: The Iroquois Story of Creation

By John Bierhorst

Go to catalog

Tells how the creation of the world was begun by a woman who fell down to earth from the sky country, and how it was finished by her two sons Sapling and Flint.

Reserve this title

The Story of the Milky Way: A Cherokee Tale

By Joseph Bruchac

Go to catalog

When cornmeal is stolen from an elderly couple, the others in a Cherokee village find a way to drive off the thief, creating the Milky Way in the process.

Reserve this title

The Story of Jumping Mouse: A Native American Legend

By John Steptoe

Go to catalog

The gifts of Magic Frog and his own hopeful and unselfish spirit bring Jumping Mouse finally to the Far-Off Land where no mouse goes hungry.

Reserve this title

The Secret of the White Buffalo: An Oglala Legend

By Carrie J. Taylor

Go to catalog

When the buffalo herds fail to appear one spring, a village in the Black Hills of South Dakota finds itself in turmoil: the people grow selfish, and the elders lose their authority. But a beautiful woman comes, bearing a message of hope.

Reserve this title

The Precious Gift: A Navajo Creation Myth

By Ellen Jackson

Go to catalog

A retelling of part of a Navajo creation and evolution myth in which of all the animals the lowly snail alone is responsible for bringing pure water to the new land.

Reserve this title

The Magic Hummingbird: A Hopi Folktale

By Ekkehart Malotki

Go to catalog

Two starving orphans in a drought-stricken village follow a magic hummingbird on a quest to bring rain to their people

Reserve this title

The Legend of the White Buffalo Woman

By Paul Goble

Go to catalog

A Lakota Indian legend in which the White Buffalo Woman presents her people with the Sacred Calf Pipe which gives them the means to pray to the Great Spirit.

Reserve this title

The Legend of the Indian Paintbrush

By Tomie DePaola

Go to catalog

The legend of how the Indian paintbrush, the state flower of Wyoming, first bloomed, and how a young brave dreams of creating a painting that will capture the beauty of a sunset.

Reserve this title