Sacred Texts  Native American  Northwest 

Coming for the Bride, photo by Edward Curtis 1914, [public domain]: In the bow qunhulahl, a masked man personating the thunderbird, dances as others row to the shores of the bride's village


by Franz Boas


This is a collection of myths and folklore from the Kwakiutl Native Americans of British Columbia, Canada. They originally resided on the northern end of Vancouver Island and the adjacent coast. The texts were collected and translated by Franz Boas, who was one of the founders of modern anthropology and linguistics. These stories are much more satisfying for the Western reader than many unfiltered Native American texts, with rich characterizations, earthy humor, spooky supernatural settings, and, for once, actual beginnings, middles and ends. It is obvious that the Kwakuitl were accomplished story tellers.

Title Page
1. Q!â'nêqê?laku and Xatê'tsEn
2. SE'nlê?
4. Scab
5. L!â'lamîn
6. Kunô'sila
7. Mâ'dEm
8. The Singing Skull
9. Mountain-Goat Hunter
10. Wî'wag*êsawê?
11. The Dzô'noq!wa
12. The Mink Legend
Mink marries Kelp
Mink Marries Frog-Woman
Mink marries Diorite-Woman
Mink wants to marry Sawbill-Duck-Woman
Mink is deserted by his Wife
Mink pretends to die
Mink pretends to die (Another Version)
Mink and the salmon
Mink roasts the Salmon
Mink plays with Seal
Mink imitates his Hosts
Mink goes to make War with his Friend Land-Otter
13. The Deer and his Son.
14. Great-Inventor

16. The Q!â'nêqi?laxu Legend

Q!â'nêqi?laxu and his Brother Only-One
Q!â'nêqi?laxu, and Ts!â'ts!ô
Q!â'nêqi?laxu kills the Whales
Q!â'nêqi?laxu makes a House for Only-One
Q!â'nêqi?laxu begins his wanderings
Q!â'nêqi?laxu marries the Daughter of Gwâ'?nâlâlis
Q!â'nêqi?laxu meets Shaman
Q!â'nêqi?laxu revives the Ancestors of the Koskimo
Origin of the Deer
Origin of the Mink
Origin of the Raccoon
Origin of the Mallard Ducks
Q!â'nêqi?laxu gives Man and Woman their Present Form
Transformation of the Man with many Mouths
Q!â'nêqi?laxu meets Oldest-One-in-the-World
Q!â'nêqi?laxu meets Ô'?mâl
Origin of the Perch

17. MEskwa' (Greedy-One)

The Birth of Greedy-One
Greedy-One steals Crabapples
Greedy-One catches the Salmon
Greedy-One kills Bear, Cormorant, and Gum

18. Ô'?mâl.

18. Ô'?mâl
Ô'?mâl marries the Daughter of the Killer-Whale
Ô'?mâl gets the Soil
Ô'?mâl obtains the Water
Ô'?mâl makes War on Southeast Wind
Ô'?mâl obtains the Tides
Ô'?mâl Paints the Birds
Ô'?mâl obtains Daylight
Ô'?mâl gambles with Gull
Ô'?mâl imitates his Hosts
Ô'?mâl kills the Thunder-Birds


19. Hâ'daga (Raven-Sound-in-House).
20. NômasE'nxêlis (Oldest-One-in-the-World)
Ô'?meäl (Chief-of-the-Ancients)
22. Dâ'p!abê (Leader)
23. Q!â'g*i?wa (Centre, the Chief of the Ghosts)
24. Q!ômg*ustâEls (Wealth-coming-up)
25. A?mâ'xwax*sag*îla (Potlatch-Giver)
26. Hâ'dahô
27. Lâ'gelêqEla (Surpassing)
28. The Descendants of Surpassing
29. Nô'aqaua (Wisest-One)
30. The Brothers
31. Yax*st!al
32. Q!ô'mg*ila
33. The Blind Man who recovered his Eyesight
34. Song-Dance
35. Dzâ'wadalalîs
36. G*â'yusdä?sElas
37. ?nâ'lak!ulEm
38. Xwâ'xwas
39. ?nEmô'gwis
40. Gray-Face (Ô'xsEm) and Twin (Yîkwî'l)
41. The Boy who disappeared Underground
42. K*ê'lôs
43. L!â'lamîn
44. Mâ'lêleqala
45. Nô'mas
46. Gâ'sag*ila
47. Q!ê'x*Lala
48. Wâ'walê
49. Additions to the Myth of Kwêkwaxâ'wê?
50. Additions to the Myth of the Mink
51. Addition to the Myth of Q!â'nêqê?laku
52. Note regarding the Origin of the Sun