Kwakiutl Legends

Kwakiutl legends are related to tribes like the Nootka and Heiltsuk tribes, which have many very similar oral traditions. 

Common Characters in Kwakiutl Legends

Anekelak (also spelled Kánekelak, Kanikwi’lakw, Kaniki’lakw, Q!aneqelaku, Q’aneqelakw, Q!â’nêqi’laxu, K’anig yilak’, and other ways): The Transformer figure of Kwakwaka’wakw mythology, who brought balance to the world by using his powers to change people, animals, and the landscape into the forms they have today. 

Raven (Kwekwaxa’we in the Kwakiutl language, also spelled Kewkwaxa’we or Kwêkwaxâ’wê): Raven is the culture hero of the Kwakiutl and other Northwest Coast tribes. He is a benevolent figure who helps the people, but at the same time, he is also a trickster character and many Kwakwaka’wakw stories about Raven have to do with his frivolous or poorly thought out behavior getting him into trouble. 

Tsunukwa (also spelled Dzunukwa, Dzoo-noo-qua, Dzoonokwa, Dsonoqua, Dzô’noqwa, Dzô’noq!wa, D’Sonoqua, and other ways): The Basket Ogress, a giant cannibal monster who catches human children and carries them off in her enormous pack basket. 

Bukwus (also spelled Bakwas, Bookwus, Bukwis, Buk’wus, Pugwis, Pu Gwis, Pu’gwis, and other ways): A skeletal, long-haired wild man of Kwakiutl legend. Bukwus is sometimes mistakenly identified with the Salishan Sasquatch, but the two creatures are extremely different.

Bukwus is actually a ghost associated with drowning victims (sometimes known as the “King of Ghosts” or “Man of the Sea”), who tries to tempt humans into eating ghost food and therefore becoming bukwus themselves.

Kwakiutl Legends