Native American Stories

In 1982, just one year after I started storytelling, Cahokia Mounds asked me to come and tell some stories at their "Rediscover Cahokia Days." At that time I did not tell Native American stories, but I found some collections, read hundreds of stories, and came up with five that I could tell that day. Since that time, I have discovered that there is a lot more to telling Native American stories than picking up a book to find a story to tell. I am not Native American, by lineage, but I do have a love for the stories that this culture has handed down for centuries. I not only learn the story, but I also learn about the tribe that told that story. The stories are rich in symbolism. In other folk tales it is often fair game to change animals, places, events to suit the teller, but not these stories. The Native American stories are told to pass on information, lessons, religion and more. I try to stay true to the story. Many of the stories have a season in which they are to be told. There are certain taboos and consequences for not following the traditional way. Whenever possible, I get permission from someone in the tribe to tell the stories. (See Multiculturalism Through Stories) An Abenaki Indian, Joseph Bruchac, has taught me a lot about how to respect the stories of others. With all that said...I love the Native American stories. They are often rooted in the environment, they are short, have a powerful lessons tucked away inside them, and the characters always come to life as I tell them. Those five first stories have multiplied and now I tell many more. Many stories have more than one tribal origin. I placed the stories according to the tribe that I first found it. I am always learning as I tell them.

"The world is full of stories, and from time to time they permit themselves to be told."                                                                                      Old Cherokee Saying

                                      Home Page  Creek

bullet How Possum Got His Tail - there are many stories telling how possum lost or got his tail. In this story Possum doesn't listen and gets his tail burned. Home Page   Chickasaw

bullet Baby Rattlesnake as told by Te Ata and adapted by Lynne Maroney Home Page  Cherokee

bullet Coyote Dances with the Stars - (as told by Lynne Maroney) Vain Coyote tries to dance all night with the stars but falls to the earth as a falling star.
bullet Grandmother Spider Brings the Light - One of the many, many legend on how fire came to be. In this legend, not only does Grandmother bring fire, she teaches how to make pottery. Then later regulates the sun and moon with her web. Study Guide
bullet Why the Leave Change Color - The leaves of the trees offer to lose their leaves to help protect the little ones (bugs, insects, spiders) during the cold winter months. Since then their green leaves turn brilliant fall colors before they fall from the trees.
bullet The Origin of the Strawberries - Man and woman argue and the Creator stops the woman from running away by having strawberries grow at her feet.
bullet The Legend of the Red Cedar - The Creator places the spirits of the ancestors into a new tree - the sacred red cedar. A story about the length of day, the Equinox and the Solstice.
bullet More stories Home Page  Seneca

bullet How Porcupine Got His Quills - Little Gray One receives a coat from Red Fox for getting him the sacred pine cone.
bullet Raccoon and the Crayfish - Little Crayfish learns that Grandfather's stories are true the hard way.
bullet How Chipmunk Got His Stripe - Chipmunk barely escapes from Bear when Bear's claw scrapes the top of his back.
bullet More Stories Home Page  Iroquois

bullet How the Animals Were Formed  -Rabbit is given what he needs and Owl is given a lesson
bullet Skunny Wundy and the Stone Giant - Trickster Skunny Wundy gets the best of a Stone Giant.
bullet The Vampire Skeleton -  a young woman barely escapes the clutches of the evil one.
bullet More Stories Home Page  Cheyenne

bullet The Legend of the Blue Bonnet - retold by Tomi dePaola is based on a legend about how the first blue bonnet flowers appeared in Texas through the sacrifice of a young girl. Home Page  Northwest Coast 

bullet Whistling Tsonaquas - an adapted version of "How the Mosquitoes First Came to Be."
bullet More Stories Home Page  Lakota   

bullet Rabbit the Arrowmaker - adapted story about Rabbit going to visit the bear clan to find flint.
bullet More Stories Home Page  California Indians

bullet Coyote Brings the Light   - Coyote and his friends take the fire from the Fire Beings to help the people.
bullet The First Rainbow - Coyote develops a plan to have the spider grandsons to go to see the Creator. While there the two spiders help Sky God make the first rainbow to show the rain will stop. Home Page Winnebago Indians

bullet  The Beginning of Redhorn - The first in a cycle of stories. A coming of age story where Little Brother becomes Redhorn and a series of adventures ensue.

                                        More web pages on collections of Native American Stories and Legends


Native American Lore Index Page


Indian Mythology by Tribe


Native American Legends, Myths and Lore


The First People Legends


Native Languages of the Americas:
American Indian Legends and Folklore


Indian Legend. com


Native American Bedtime Stories

                                                                  Native American Storytellers

There are many fine Native American Storytellers who tell to their people. Many never leave their tribal grounds. Others have taken their talents to the main stages around the United States and internationally.

bullet Joseph Bruchac - Abenaki Storyteller and Author
bullet Kevin Locke - Northern Plains Indian - Native American flute player, hoop dancer and storyteller

Dovie Thomason - Lakota/Kiowa Apache storyteller and cultural educator.


Tim Tingle - A Choctaw Indian - speaker, storyteller and author of Walking the Choctaw Road  

bullet Johnny Moses - Tulalip Native American Storyteller and Author
bullet Gayle Ross - A Cherokee Teller and author
bullet Debra Morningstar - an Oneida storyteller and workshop presenter


Many organizations dedicate themselves to preserving the Native American way of life. Still, much focus is on the past of the Native American people. If we share the rich culture and deep love Native American's have for mother earth, we can ensure a future as well. Please visit

                                                       Stories 'n Stones Programs


My husband, Larry Kinsella, and I often collaborate to offer a new twist on our Stories 'n Stones programs. Basically, they are set up the same way...I tell a story that incidentally talks about things that Larry has experimented with in his archaeology pursuits. Then, he demonstrates and tells anecdotal stories of discovery. I finish with another story and there is a 15 minute Q&A.  Here is a list of these one-hour programs:

1.  THE ORIGINAL STORY 'N STONES - Flyer    Skunny Wundy and the Stone Giant>demo on flintknapping and stone axes>Whistling Tsonaquas


2.  STORIES 'N STONES ALONG THE EXPEDITION TRAIL - Flyer    The Piasa>two technologies meet along the Lewis and Clark historic journey>Whistling Tsonaquas

bullet THE PIASA - the story*

3.  BRINGING THE LIGHT Grandmother Spider Brings the Light and Larry demos various fire-making techniques including making fire by rubbing two sticks together. Study Guide

4.  ISHI, THE LAST OF THE STONE-AGE SUPER HEROES Story of Ishi with Rabbit the Arrowmaker>ancient skills Ishi taught modern man including fire making>Coyote Brings the Fire/end with fire making demo.


5. SURVIVOR ON BOOK ISLAND  and other programs for 2006. Review of books about survival - Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, Hatchet/demo of survival techniques with hands-on cordage making/Coyote Brings Fire

6. THE MYSTERY OF WOODHENGE AND BEYOND Grandmother Spider Brings the Light and The Legend of the Red Cedar/stories and technology about the reconstruction of Woodhenge at Cahokia Mounds  Study Guide


7. The Games the Ancient Ones Played- The story of The Great Race between the four-legged and the two- legged. Larry demos how the various games were made and played.

 8. Show Me Mound City - a prehistoric look at historic St. Louis.

*I tell a story called "The Piasa". It is not a true Native American legend, but it is often thought to be one. It was written in the late 1800's to explain why a certain pictograph was painted on the bluffs near Alton, Illinois. It combines part of the Red Horn mythology with an author's embellishment. My version is adapted from the author's version.

                                                                                                     PUPPET SHOW

COYOTE DANCES WITH THE STARS - loosely based on the Cherokee/Cheyenne story about Coyote and his attempt to dance with the stars.