Cherokee Legends

Unetlanvhi is the Cherokee word for Creator or God. Sometimes Cherokee people today also refer to the Creator as the Great Spirit, a phrase which was borrowed from other tribes of Oklahoma. Unetlanvhi is considered to be a divine spirit with no human form or attributes and is not normally personified in Cherokee myths. Sometimes another name such as Heavenly One (Galvladi’ehi ) or Ruler ( Ouga also spelled Ugv or Ugu) is used instead.

Characters Found in Cherokee Legends:

Jistu – Rabbit, the trickster figure in the folklore of the Cherokee and other Southeastern tribes.

Nunnehi (Travelers) – A supernatural spirit race which is friendly towards humans, particularly towards the Cherokee tribe. Nunnehi are very strong and sometimes intercede in battle on the Cherokees’ behalf. Like Little People, Nunnehi are usually invisible but sometimes show themselves to humans they like (appearing as regal looking human warriors.) Their name is pronounced similar to nun-nay-hee.

Stoneclads – Formidable rock giants of Cherokee mythology.

Thunderers (Aniyvdaqualosgi or Ani-Yuntikwalaski) – Storm spirits who live in the sky and command thunder and lightning. In Cherokee legends the Thunderers are human in form, unlike many tribes where thunder spirits appear as birds. Cherokee Thunderers are powerful and dangerous, but generally benign and friendly to humans.

TlanuwaGiant mythological birds of prey with impenetrable metal feathers, common to the mythology of many Southeastern tribes. 

Uktena – A dragon-like horned serpent of Cherokee legend. The first Uktena was said to be transformed from a human man in a failed assassination attempt on the Sun. Most other Cherokee tales about Uktena have to do with Cherokee heroes slaying one. They are malevolent and deadly monsters.

Yunwi Tsunsdi’ (Little People): A race of small humanoid nature spirits, sometimes referred to in English as dwarves or fairies. They are usually invisible but sometimes reveal themselves as miniature child-sized people. Yunwi Tsunsdi are benevolent creatures who frequently help humans in Cherokee stories, but they have magical powers and are said to harshly punish people who are disrespectful or aggressive towards them. The singular form is Yvwi Usdi (pronounced yun-wee oon-stee.)

Famous Cherokee

Cherokee Legends:


Article Index:

How the Cherokee got Corn

AUTHOR: Cherokee Legend, Myth, Oral Story How Corn came to feed the Cherokee people and people all over the Earth.

Origin of Strawberries

When the world was new, there was one man and one woman. They were happy; then they quarreled. At last the woman left the man and began to walk away toward the Sunland, the Eastland. The man followed. He felt sorry, but the woman walked straight on. She did not look back.

Race between Hummingbird and Crane

Humming Bird and Crane were both in love with a pretty woman. She liked Humming Bird, who was handsome. Crane was ugly, but he would not give up the pretty woman. So at last to get rid of him, she told them they must have a race, and that she would marry the winner.

The Eagles Revenge Cherokee Legend
The First Fire
The Legend of the Cherokee Rose (nu na hi du na tlo hi lu i)
Two Wolves – A Cherokee Tale
Why the Turkey Gobbles