The great creator mother of the Inuit people.
("the mother") An Inuit goddess of childbirth.
The self-sacrificing maiden of the Oneida tribe.
The Leni Lenape personification of Star. The reference is to any star,
but specifically the North Star. Star sees the world at night and offers
her meek light to those in darkness.
The Crow Mother. Angwusnasomtaka is a wuya, and a mothering kachina
figure. She is considered the archetypal mother of all the hú,
or of all kachinas. During powamu, she leads the initiation
ceremony for the new children. She is also in charge of whipping the initiates
with yucca whips. She also often leads other kachinas into a ceremony,
often carrying corn kernels and bean sprouts as a symbol of fertility
and good luck for the upcoming new planting season.
(Ite, Face or Double Face Woman) She is the wife of Tate (Wind) and daughter
of Skan (Sky). Her name reflects her two faces; one beautiful, the other
ugly, a punishment for her attempt to seduce Wi (Sun). In other Lakota
tales she is the bringer of "quilling", the craft of sorting
and dyeing porcupine quills.
(Arnarquagsag ) "Old Woman of the Sea". An Inuit deity of Greenland
who supplies all physical needs.
The Red Man or Red Woman invoked by the Cherokee in spells to cure the
ill. Asgaya Gigagei is either male or female, depending on the sex of
An Inuit female weather deity who is of human parentage. The Angakoq (shaman)
invokes her to provide good weather. She is occasionally regarded as a
Similar to Apotamkin, she is a monster girl who carries off children in
the Alsea area of the Pacific Northwest. Her laughter is an omen of imminent
The Athabaskan first woman. She was responsible for the birth of animal
life on earth.
In this tale Sun is carried by an old woman who dwells with her daughter
in the sky. She leaves in the morning and come home at night. [Pacific
(Ataensic) ('mother of breath of wind') According to the Iroquois and
the Huron, a sky goddess who fell to the earth at the beginning of creation.
She is said to have died giving birth to the twins Hahgwehdiyu and Hahgwehdaetgah,
fought in her womb. From her body she made the Moon and the Sun, which
were set in the sky by her husband, Master of Winds. She is associated
with marriage, childbirth, and feminine crafts.
The Pawnee Sacred Earth Mother of every living creature. The Pawnee were
hunters, when they told to abandon hunting and settle down to farming,
the elder replied: "You ask me to plow the ground! Shall I take a
knife and tear my mother's bosom? Then when I die she will not take me
to her bosom to rest. You ask me to dig for stone! Shall I dig under her
skin for her bones? Then when I die, I cannot enter her body to be born
again. You ask me to cut grass and make hay and sell it, and be rich like
white men! But how dare I cut off my mother's hair? It is a bad law and
my people cannot obey it."
Mother Swan of the Seneca tribe in the Northeast. She is a wise old woman
who lives alone with three beautiful daughters.
Among the Pueblo Zuni, Awitelin Tsta is the earth mother. She gave birth
to all life with the sky father Apoyan Tachi.
The Pawnee mother of the Moon and all the stars, who permits the world
to be created.
She was born with the spirit of a bear, after her father killed a bear
while she was still in her mother's womb. She is the origin of the Bear
Medicine Ceremony of the Pawnee invoking healing powers by actions of
a bear based on her narrative myth.
A Pueblo woman who becomes a bear, also known as Yellow Woman.
The Iroquois daughter of Atahensic, and the mother of Ioskeha and Tawiscara.
The Mohave goddess of love (the "Mohave Venus"). She presides
over fertility in humans and animals.
[Plains, Pawnee] She does not enjoy the meat of deer and buffalo, but
prefers the soft, tender flesh of humans. She lives in the desert with
a boy and four ravenous dogs. The boy hunts humans with a magic bow, a
black snake, to provide her with meat. He feels sorry for the humans and
pleads with Cannibal Grandmother to stop eating human flesh. Finally she
is persuaded to set her dogs free except one, Afraid of Nothing.
While away, the boy seeks long to find any buffalo who have held council
against him and Cannibal Grandmother for her carnivorous ways. The mate
of the dead buffalo takes him to the buffalo village where he wins many
contests before they try to kill him. Escaping up a tree, Cannibal Grandmother
hears his cries for help and releases Afraid of Nothing, chasing away
the buffalo attackers. The boy finally persuades Cannibal grandmother
to desist her diet of human flesh, gives her a bag of seeds and sends
her to the north country. Old Cannibal Grandmother's offspring are the
farmers and the boy goes south and becomes a great warrior, whose offspring
never plant seeds.
Cannibal Woman originates from the domestic narrative of the wife who,
while preparing meat, feeds herself but offers naught to her husband's
dogs. The powerful medicine of the dogs (orenda) makes her slice
her finger instead of meat. She sucks the blood to stop the bleeding.
And likes the taste of blood so much, she continues to slice her fingers
and suck the blood out of each one. Not satisfied she also cuts away her
flesh. Still not satisfied, she kills and eats her young child. The dogs
warn the husband prior his return and they find shelter with two elders
who adopt the man as their own. Owing to the loyalty of the dogs, affection
towards dogs receives great power. Dogs know all what is said but lack
the power of speech. Cruelty to dogs causes reciprocal harm.
The Zuni goddess of childbirth.
A Navajo female hero and role model figure of the faithful and efficient
wife, after whom Coyote lusts.
In Arapaho logend, she is the jealous first wife of a water monster. Her
envious wrath is taken out on River Woman by drowning her. Beaver Foot
revives his sister River Woman who repays the ill intent by drowning Crow
Woman. Water Monster begins to weep and floods the river. Beaver Foot,
through stretching his body, acts as a dam and saves the village.
A dangerous witch known to the Seneca, who live in the Northeast Woodlands.
She is often represented as a whirlwind, and is destroyed by the father
of her child.
The collective name of the three daughters of the Earth Mother of the
Seneca. They are the guardians and spirits of corn, beans, and squash.
A heroine of the Ontario Hurons, Djigonasee was the mother of the peacebringer
Deganiwada, founder of the Iroquois Laeague (Six Nations): Seneca, Cayuga,
Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora. Like many mothers of heroes,
Djigonasee was a virgin when her son was born. A herald from beyond this
world announced the birth.
The Frog Princess of Haida mythology, she is also referred to as the Volcano
Woman, who arrived from the sea with six canoe-loads of people. Her husband
was Kaiti, the bear god.
The Seneca reference for "Old Woman", or more precisely "ancient
bodied one", who is known as the First Mother.
A Duwamish mountain goddess.
The earth. Her name means "our mother" in Iroqouis.
The Cherokee earth mother; sister of Igaehindivo (the sun goddess) and
Sehu (the corn woman)
The Arapaho Grandmother earth goddess.
She is the wife of the Great Spirit of the Chamoco, and the mother of
(Estsanatlehi) The Navajo sky goddess, wife of the sun. The twin sister
of Yolkai Estsan, wife of the moon. The most respected goddess of the
Navaho Indians, she is seen as the goddess of change, and it is said that
she progresses through age to become an old woman, then becomes a young
woman again. She passes through an endless stream of lives, always changing
but never dying. Estanatlehi created the primeval pair of humans from
maize. Afterwards she became the ruler of the realm of the dead, in the
west, from where only the good things for humans come from. The Navaho
tales tell how the first man and woman observed a black cloud descend
onto a mountain, and perceiving great portents therein, approached the
mountain, where they found a baby girl. This was Estanatlehi, who grew
into a full-grown woman within eighteen days of the couple taking her
home. It is also said that the goddess, feeling lonely, fashioned men
and women out of small pieces of her own skin, to keep her company. "The
woman who changes". She is a shape-shifter, and is associated with
transformation and immortality. She is the mother of the twins Monster
Slayer and Born for Water, who rid the earth of monsters. The first humans
are said to have been created from skin rubbed from her body.
The goddess of night and day. She had a pot with a lid; when she closed
the lid the sun was left outside (night), when she took the lid off the
pot, the sun could be seen (day).
The creator goddess of the Coquille.
Known in Alaska as the moon's female lover, whose face is reflected in
the full moon. The Ojibwa of the Northwoodlands refer to her as Lone Bird.
A name associated with a helping spirit of the Kathlamet of the Northwest
Coast, who keeps the bones of animals rolled in her mat. Owing to a lack
of honor, sometimes leads to people starving, since these animals will
show themselves to be hunted or trapped.
Flower Woman is best known of as the Yaqui woman of the Southwest who
understands the Talking Tree that reveals the nature of the world and
A curious tale of an Arapaho girl child who is carried and born by a man.
The man is hunting with his brothers when his foot is stuck by a thorn.
His foot swells and swells until a female infant emerges from the wound.
A young Ojibwa woman given in marriage to a respected elder of the tribe,
who was more than three times her age. She went obediently, if unhappily,
feeling her life would be less satisfying than if she had found a love-mate
her own age. As the years passed and she had many children by the old
man, her heart softened towards him. When he grew sick at age 85, Gawaunduk
cared for him tenderly and nursed him back to health. He recovered and
lived another 15 years. Then, at 100 years old, he died quietly in his
sleep. She grieved so at his grave that she died of that grief and they
were buried together. Mists that rise from spruce forests are said to
be her tears as she mourns for him.
The Ojibwa sky mother, a Manitou (great spirit) who dwelt in the heavens
and watched over her people from there. She was the creator of humanity;
she created the earth by descending into the primal soup to find land
under the waves and fashioning it into the hills and valleys and the mountain
ranges of the earth.
(Gendewitha) The morning star (means "she who brings the day").
Her story tells of the time when the great hunter Sosondowah was stalking
a supernatural elk. The hunt brought him to the heavens, where the goddess
Dawn trapped him as her doorkeeper. But he did not remain faithful to
his duties; down on earth he saw Gendenwitha (a mortal woman) and daily
left his duties to court her. While Dawn was busy coloring the sky, the
hunter was singing to his beloved: in spring as a bluebird; in summer,
as a blackbird; in autumn, as a hawk. And it was as a hawk that he tried
to carry Gendenwitha to heaven with him. But the jealous Dawn turned the
woman into a star and set Gendenwitha just above Dawn's door, where she
shines today as the morning star.
She was an Iroquois woman so wise that squabbles among her people were
brought to her for settlement. Genetaska was always fair and impartial,
but one day fell in love with a defendant, and then married him. This
ruined her reputation for impartiality and her "office" of mediator
She learned the healing chant (Hozoni) and its rituals from her
lover, a leader of the snake people of the lower world. Back on earth,
she tried to teach the song of beauty to her brother, but he was not as
fast a learner as she and had trouble remembering the elaborately beautiful
song. By the use of magic she finally taught him; when she returned to
the lower world, the Navajo were left with the gift of healing.
Among the Tuscarora it is said that at the beginning of time, all the
people spoke the same language. The heroine Godasiyo was a chief in the
biggest village. One day, Godasiyo's favorite dog gave birth to seven
puppies, the last-born of which was the cutest puppy you have ever seen.
This magical puppy was so cute that Godasiyo's people grew envious. They
began to argue violently for possession of the dog. Godasiyo invented
canoes and ordered those of her people who were still friendly into them.
She wanted them to travel to a new place, where they could establish a
new village and live in peace with the adorable puppy. But even as they
pepared to embark arguments began about which canoe the chief and her
puppy should ride in. Godasiyo then invented an outrigger, so she could
ride between the canoes. But even this was not good enough. The migrating
people reached a place where the river divided and began to argue furiously
about which way to go. During the argument, the chief and her dog were
accidentally thrown into the water and drowned. But almost immediately
they were reborn, she as a huge sturgeon, the puppy as a little whitefish.
When the people tried to comment on this miracle, they found they could
no longer understand each other. Because of the conflict over possession
of a puppy, the many human languages were born.
(Spinning Woman, Thinking Woman) The creatress and wisdom goddess of the
Cherokee. She wove the universe every day and unraveled the web every
According to Ojibway mythology, Greenmantle was the daughter of an Ojibway
chief. The Sioux captured her when they invaded the Thunder Bay, Ontario,
area, over a hundred years ago. She was taken prisoner and forced by the
Sioux to lead them to the Ojibway encampment. Pretending to betray her
tribe, she leads them over Kekabeka Falls, instead, and escapes to warn
her people. In another version, she dies with the Sioux as they head over
the falls, and her spirit can be seen above the falls as a rainbow, while
the cries of the Sioux warriors can be heard in the roar of the falls.
The Tlingit and Haida tribes of Alaska considered her a beneficent forest
The hunting goddess of the Navaho, wife of the war god.
Two mother goddesses, survivors of the Deluge who became the ancestors
of the Hopi tribe.
The Acoma sisters who created man.
An Inuit sea goddess.
The Pueblo Corn Mother.
The Cherokee sun goddess. Sister of Elihino (the earth) and Sehu (maize
An Inuit Goddess of lightning. She made lightning by rubbing pieces of
Mother Earth, to the Algonquin.
The Corn Mother who connects the Pueblo people with the Earth.
In Oglala and Lakota legend, she is the wife of Tate (the wind) and the
mother of the Wani (four sons who control the four seasons).
The corn goddess of the Keresan Puebloes. She is the ruler of her underground
realm shipap. It is the place from where mankind first emerged, infants
today are born, and where the dead go. She is associated with compassion,
agriculture, and children.
The Inuit deity of thunder, sister of Ignirtoq. In some traditions, Kadlu
consists of three sisters.
The Huron creator; Grandmother Toad.
(Komorkis) The Blackfoot moon goddess; mother of the Morning Star.
Erotic companion of Kokopeli. She challenged the young men of the Hopi
villages they visited to a foot race. When she overtook them (most of
the time), she wrestled them to the ground and simulated intercourse with
Hopi Creator goddess; she created humans, plants, and animals.
In Native American folktales, literally, a wise woman. The term of reproach
or abuse for an old woman or a witch who does not have supernatural powers.
The Bella Coola goddess who initiates the shamans.
The first woman of the Maidu.
Bird goddess of the Klamath.
A Kwakiutl goddess of wealth and luck.
A beneficient Klamath goddess portrayed as a beautiful woman.
A Klikitat fire goddess; the personification of Mt. St. Helens.
In Modoc and Shasta Wintu lore, it is said that Loon Woman discovers her
lost brother and the two run away together. She wishes to have intercourse
with him but he rightfully refuses, heedless of her threats of creating
an all-consuming fire. The family flees to the sky world, but one child
dares look back and the entire family plunges into the fire. Loon Woman
gathers their hearts and strings them into a necklace. Upon her demise,
the members of her brother's family are restored. [West Coast, Modoc,
Sioux Earth mother.
The Inuit sun goddess; sister to the god Anningat, the moon.
A terrifying female spirit whom the Aymara Indians accuse of lying waste
their fields and of killing their herds.
The savior of the Blackfoot people from starvation. The hunters of the
tribe would drive a buffalo herd over a cliff; the women would cut up
and collect the meat from the dead animals. This particular time the buffalo
herds would turn away before going over the edge. This continued until
the people were in dire straits and on the verge of starvation. One morning
Minnehaha was at the bottom of the cliff when she noticed a large herd
above. In desperation she yelled out that she would marry one of them
if they jumped off the cliff. Some of them jumped, others followed and
soon the whole herd was over the cliff. When the rest of the tribe came
to the cliff they found plenty of meat, but no Minnehaha. Her footprints
showed that she had left with an old buffalo.
Two sisters, heroines of many Indian folktales. Their names mean literally
the grain and the vetch pulse.
An Inuit sea-goddess who is regarded as the mother of all sea creatures.
She was invoked by hunters and fishermen invoked for success in their
"Grandmother". The earth goddess of the Algonquin. She fed all
living things; plants, animals, and people.
The Inuit goddess of the land-hunt.
The Iroquois spirit of wheat; she is Eithinoha's daughter.
The Owl Woman of the Plains Tribes, is the Keeper of a bridge that souls
must cross on the way to the afterlife. She will cast off those spirits
and souls that are unidentified into the dark abyss below.
The Pawnee moon goddess who marries the sun. They are the creators of
the first people.
She and her daughter created the first Paiute people.
She cares for the souls of the Inuit dead in heaven while they wait to
"The one on high". The Inuit goddess of game, the hunt, helper
of medicine, men and the living. She brings the souls of the recently
deceased to heaven and gives them to the care of Pana, and she watches
over the deeds of humans.
In Crow Indian folklore, and also of the Hidatsa and the Gros Ventre,
a terrible old woman. She always keeps a big pot burning, and when she
tilts it towards anyone it sucks them in.
(Ptesan-Wi) White Buffalo Woman was a Teacher of Peace and Wisdom. She
is also known as Whope (Falling Star) to other Plains tribes.
At a time when the Lakota people were in great need, two Lakota men saw
a "wakan" (holy) woman floating toward them. When they met her
and saw how beautiful she was, one of the men thought of her only in a
physical way, and acted disrespectfully. He was struck by lightning and
became a pile of ashes. The other behaved properly and she instructed
him to tell his people to prepare a medicine lodge for her arrival. In
the legends of the Plains Indians, she came to the medicine lodge wearing
a dress of white buckskin, and introduced the pipe ceremony.
She taught the people to honor the whole universe when tobacco is placed
in the pipe, and told them that the pipe binds together the sky, the earth
and all life on it. She also said that the buffalo is a sacred being,
representing the universe and standing in the west to hold back the waters.
When all the buffalo are gone and the waters cover the earth, the sacred
hoop will end. She also gave the people maize, and taught them the seven
She gave the sacred pipe she bears in her left hand to the medicine chief,
transformed into a white buffalo and then turned the black, then red,
then last she turned yellow, representing the colors of the four directions.
She then disappeared.
The Eskimo goddess of childbirth and clothes making.
The first woman of the Bella Coola.
The Chinook creator goddess who created people by eating thunderbird eggs.
The Hopi goddess associated with the creation of life.
The Mandan creator goddess. She makes human bodies and her male counterpart
adds the souls.
On a sea journey from one village to another, Sagapgia is taken from her
canoe by the sea spirit(s) as a wife. Her uncle offers significant presents
for a happy marriage. The couple bears a son, Wa-medi-aks ("Down
the Useless River") and later a daughter, both of whom the sea spirit
stretches to grow faster. This union and the offspring lead to a great
feast with the sea spirits who have been responsible for many drowning
and ill tides. To ensure harmony, the sea spirits release Sagapgia and
(Avilayoq) There was an Inuit legend of a young woman who went fishing
with her father. He felt she was eating too many fish and pushed her out
of the canoe. As she clung to the side, he cut off her fingers and she
sank to the bottom, becoming a Goddess in the sea; her fingers became
the fish in the ocean. To ensure a good catch, the shaman journeys to
the bottom of the ocean to ask for her blessing. She was greatly feared
but sought out by Shamans for the release of the seals for hunting. According
to one myth, Sedna lives now on the bottom of the sea (Adlivun) where
she spends here days amidst whales and other creatures of the sea. In
Greenland she is called Arnakuagsak and in Alaska, Nerrivik.
("corn") Sometimes known as the Cherokee First Woman, she is
Kanati's wife. Selu created corn in secret by rubbing her belly or by
defecating. Her sons, the Twin Thunder Boys, killed her when they spied
upon her and decided she was a witch.
Spider Man and Spider Woman are Navaho supernaturals or Holy People. They
taught the Navaho people how to weave, and established the four warnings
of death. Spider Woman is an important mythic being among both the Eastern
Pueblos and the Western Pueblos of New Mexico and Arizona.
She probably assimilated into the Navaho religious assemblage, as the
Athabasans migrated from their home land in Canada to the southwest, slowly
taking on character as they went along from different cultural associations.
However, the major influence was from the Pueblo peoples of the southwest,
especially during the 1600's and early 1700's, in conjunction with the
Pueblo Revolt. At this time there was a very close living association
between the Navaho and the Pueblos, at places like Largo Canyon in New
Mexico. These stressful times greatly influenced the Navaho religion and
thought. In general, Spider, Spider Woman or Spider Man is a beneficial
character in the myths and stories of the Plains, Southwestern, and Western
American Indians. In some cases a creator (Pima and Zia) and others a
trickster ( Dakota groups). Among the Jicarilla Apache, spider is a minor
character, but Spider Woman is a very important personage in the myths
of the Hopi, especially with the Hero Twins and Culture Heroes. She even
takes a part in the Sunset Crater myth, which may well have some Sinagua
When Sun's daughter was bitten by a snake and taken to the Ghost Country,
Sun hid herself in grief. The world was ever dark, and Sun's tears became
a flood. At last the Cherokee sent their young men and women to heal Sun's
grief, which they did with singing and dancing.
An Inuit deity who resembles a little old woman.
The female spirit of the Acoma Indian creation myth.
In Kwakiutl mythology, Tsonoqwa is a member of the Geekumhl family of
cannibal giants who live in the mountains and woods. There are two forms
of Tsonoqwa: male and female. The male Tsonoqwa is known as being fierce
and strong with a formidable alertness. Tsonoqwa is known as the wealth-giver
and the copper keeper, a theme recurrent in potlatches. The female Tsonoqwa
is the most frequent version of these forest dwelling giants. She is a
wild woman wandering the woods in search of children to devour. She cries
"Hu-Hu" while she searches the woods, with a basket on her back
to collect children for future snacks. She also tries to lure children
to her house in the woods by offering sweets, food, and copper treasures.
Unlike, the male Tsonoqwa, the female is always portrayed as a stupid
and clumsy creature with half-closed eyes. Hence, the children are usually
too alert to be captured, and instead snatch her precious treasures. The
female Tsonoqwa is also a dancer in the Kwakiutl's Tsetseka Winter Dance.
A Yana Goddess of good luck.
The Cherokee goddess of the Sun, her name meant "apportioner",
she who divided time into units. The world had no sun, so opossum was
sent to get one but burned its tail; vulture tried, burning its feathers.
Finally, Spider Grandmother wove a web that caught Unelanuhi, the sun,
and the people had warmth.
A Lakota Goddess ancestor of all evil beings. She also created fish.
The Chinook people were once struck with a terrible endless winter. They
were completely ice-bound with no relief in sight, and so the people began
to fear for their survival for they would soon have no food. A council
was called, and the elders recalled that endless winter resulted from
the killing of a bird. Each person was asked if he or she had been guilty
of such a crime. Everyone denied it. But the children pointed to a little
girl who, crying, confessed that she had struck a bird with a stone, and
it had died. The Chinook dressed the girl in the finest garments and exposed
her on a block of ice as an offering to the winter spirits. Almost immediately
a thaw ensued and summer came with a rush. Now the people could gather
food again. Nearly a year later, when the winter returned, the Chinook
saw a block of ice containing the girl's body and fetched it to shore.
Miraculously, the girl revived and afterward lived among them as a sacred
being, able to walk unprotected, even barefoot, through the winter and
to communicate with its spirits.
(Ptesan-Wi) This sacred woman brought secret knowledge to the Oglala.
It was said that she first appeared to two young men as a white-clad lady
whose clothing was lavishly embroidered with porcupine quills in exquisite
patterns. One of the young men was overtaken by lust, but the second recognized
that she was no earthly woman. The first, although warned, could not contain
himself; he rushed open-armed toward the woman. She smiled, and a soft
white cloud descended to cover their embrace. When it passed, the woman
stood alone with the young man's skeleton at her feet. Smiling, she told
the second man that the dead man had been awarded just what he sought.
She instructed the man to return to his village and set his people to
building a huge sacred tent. Then she entered the village, and the people
were enraptured by her presence. Walking seven times around the central
fire, she spoke to them, giving them a bag containing a sacred pipe and
teaching them the ceremonies that went with these objects. She reminded
them of the mysteries of their mother, the earth. Urging them always to
honor her, she disappeared in the shape of a white buffalo.
The daughter of the Sun Wi and the Moon. She is a goddess of peace and
the wife of the south wind. When she visited the earth, she gave the Dakota
Indians (Sioux) a pipe as a symbol of peace. Later she became the White
Buffalo Calf Woman to the Lakota.
A witch, or a female evil doer.
She was the daughter of the great Ojibwa goddess Nokomis. Winonah was
a virgin mother who was raped four times by the same manitou or spirit.
It happened that she was in the forest picking berries one day, and overtaken
with a need to urinate, she forgot the warning that women should never
face west while making water. When the manitou saw her vagina, he took
form and had intercourse with her immediately. Through this spirit-union,
she not only acquired magical powers of fertility and longevity, but also
gave birth to four heroic sons.
The female leader of the Navajo gods.
The earth goddess of the Navaho who is associated with seasons and the
land, similar to Estanatlehi. The sister of the turquoise-sky goddess
Estanatlehi, she was a Navaho moon goddess. Called "white shell woman"
because she was made from abalone, Yolkai Estsan ruled the dawn and the
ocean; she was also creator of fire and maize.