Myth-Folklore Unit: Native American Hero Tales

Overview. Stith Thompson's anthology, Tales of the North American Indians, was a pioneering work in comparative studies of Native American storytelling. This reading selection contains Thompson's collection of hero tales from many different tribal traditions including Hupa, Apache, Crow, Cree, and more. Some of the stories are about human heroes, like the boy who challenges "Unnatural Uncle" and defeats him with the help of the Eagle people. Other heroes are the children who come from the gods, like Jonayaíyin, who is sent to the Apache in order to rescue them from the deadly predations of Giant Elk and Great Eagle. There are also animal heroes, like Bluejay and his companions who find themselves swept out to sea and facing many challenges in their long journey back to their home.

Language. Thompson's book is an anthology of stories takes from various anthropological sources, written in a variety of styles. Some of the stories are told in a more traditional oral style, while other stories are edited in a style more like literary prose.

Story Length. Most of the stories in this unit are two or three pages long.

Navigation. You will find the table of contents below, and you can also use this link to see the story posts displayed on two pages total: Native American Hero Tales. Click "Older Posts" at the bottom of that page to see the second page.

  1. The Jealous Uncle
  2. The Jealous Uncle (cont.)
  3. The Jealous Uncle (end)
  4. Bluejay and His Companions
  5. Bluejay and His Companions (cont.)
  6. Dug-From-Ground
  7. Dug-From-Ground (cont.)
  8. The Attack on the Giant Elk and the Great Eagle
  9. The Attack on the Giant Elk and the Great Eagle (cont.)
  1. Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away
  2. Lodge-Boy and Thrown-Away (cont.)
  3. The Son-in-Law Tests
  4. The Jealous Father
  5. The Jealous Father (cont.)
  6. Dirty-Boy
  7. Dirty-Boy (cont.)