Native American Gods

Apistotoke

Apistotoke is a very important deity in the traditional religion of the Blackfoot tribe. The name of the deity roughly translates into ‘Our Creator’. The god also has another name in the Blackfoot tradition which means ‘Source of Life’. Apistotoke was traditionally cited as the ‘Great Spirit’ which the Blackfoot hold as the supreme deity responsible for the creation of the earth and the heavens above.

Gitchi Manitou

Gitchi Manitou is the creator god in the mythology and legends of Algonquian tribes. The name roughly translates into Great Spirit. Like the Blackfoot tradition, the Algonquian tradition does not elaborate much on the Great Spirit. Gitchi Manitou is the supreme deity and was responsible for creating the earth. Originally, the Algonquian tradition did not assign any gender to the deity although a masculine gender was assigned with the introduction of the English language.

Inyan

Inyan is a deity in the religious pantheon of the Lakota and Dakota tribes. The name of the deity roughly translates as ‘Rock’ as the deity is considered the stone spirit that has existed since primordial times. Inyan is typically associated with the ancient ways, the earth itself as well as justice. Some alternate names for the deity in Lakota culture translates into ‘Grandfather’.

Mondamin

Mondamin is an important deity in the religion of a number of Native American tribes. According to mythology, Mondamin was defeated by another deity and then turned into a maize field. In this way, he brought the gift of corn to the humans which eventually became a staple food.

Iktomi

Many Native American tribes have the figure of a trickster god or deity. Iktomi is the variant of this god in the Lakota, Nakota and Dakota traditions. His name roughly translates into ‘Spider’ although this only signifies his character or qualities, and he is known as a man in the Native American tradition. According to the Lakota mythologies, Iktomi was a trickster who performed socially unsuitable acts in order to lure people into wrong ways. A number of legends and stories related to Iktomi exist in the Sioux mythologies.

Gluskap

Gluskap is the name of a creator deity in the Algonquin tradition. According to Algonquin mythology, Gluskap was the one who created many things from Mother Earth. He created the race of mankind as well as the plains where mankind shall dwell and food plants to sustain mankind.

Algonquin tradition also holds that Gluskap had an evil brother called Malsum. Where Gluskap sought to create, sustain and help humans, Malsum did the opposite. He created evil things like thickets and poisonous animals which may harm the humans. In an ultimate show-down between the two brothers, Gluskap finally killed Malsum and good prevailed on earth. Then Gluskap took a canoe and paddled towards the sun.

Nesaru

Nesaru is the name of a primordial deity in the Arikara tradition. According to the legends of Arikara, in the beginning Nesaru was in charge of the sky, the earth and the underworld. At the time, the underworld was inhabited by a race of giants. The giants disobeyed Nesaru which angered the deity. To punish them, Nesaru created a new race of men. These were also sent to the underworld. At the same time, the god created a flood which wiped out the giants, although the new race didn’t come to any harm. Then Nesaru released the new race of men from the underworld and this race then populated the earth.

Olelbis

Olelbis is the name of a creator deity in the Wintun tradition. According to Wintun mythology, the first race of men lived at the time of Olelbis. Then the first race created fire and put the world to flame, destroying most of it. Olelbis lived with two old women in the heavens above at the time. He came to the aid of the earth, put out the flames and once again made the world inhabitable for men. He also stipulated eternal life for mankind so that at the end of their earthly life, they could climb to the heavens. But the trickster god in the Wintun mythology lured men away from this prize which is why men must live mortal lives now.

Sedna

In the Intuit tradition, Sedna is the goddess of the sea and all the creatures that dwell in it. Legend has it that Sedna was once very young and beautiful. Then her father, another deity, decided to threw her into the sea as a sacrifice. Sedna survived and became the mistress of the entire sea. However, she became a one-eyed and ugly-looking giantess, losing her beauty in the process. Sorcerers in the Inuit tradition believed that they could visit Sedna by crossing a vast abyss covered with ice.

Shakura

Shakura is a famous god in the Pawnee tradition. He is a sun god and in this position, he enjoys immense power and prestige in the Pawnee pantheon. The Pawnee warriors performed their famous Sun Dance to invoke the blessings of the god. The dance was performed as a dedication to the god from sunrise to sunset. It was a grueling form of dance which tested the strength and commitment of a warrior.

Tirawa-Atius

Tirawa-Atius is one of the most powerful deities in the Pawnee tradition. His name roughly translates as the ‘Power Above’. According to Pawnee tradition, Tirawa-Atius conceived the plans for creating a human race. He summoned other gods and asked them to help in the creation of this race. In return, he promised to give them more powers. So the Sun and the Moon then made love and birthed a son. The Morning and Evening stars made love and gave birth to a daughter. These two became the First Man and the First Woman.

Ioskeha

Ioskeha is a deity in the Iroquois tradition. According to the Iroquois legends, Ioskeha is a deity who helped mankind and stood for good things such as life, light, summer and creation. He also created the humans and taught them civilization. Ioskeha also has an evil brother in the Iroquois tradition. Named Tawiscara, his brother stands for destruction, darkness and winter.