Fourteen Native American Legends including the Kiowa, Zuni, Cherokee, Hopi, Lakota, and Muskogee, featuring the spider character in various forms, and illustrated by six Native American Artists.




Fourteen Legends from Native America

Compiled by Jill Max
Cover by S. D. Nelson 

Rising Moon, 1998
ISBN: 0873586115 — Hardcover 
ISBN: 978-0873589369 — Paperback

A 1998 Oklahoma Book Award Finalist.

Additional illustrations by Robert Annesley, Benjamin Harjo, Michael Lacapa, S. D. Nelson, Redwing T Nez and Baje Whitethorne



“A worthwhile addition to both folktale and Native American collections.” —School Library Journal
“Readers will relish both the stories and the lessons provided by fourteen spider legends from a wide range of Native cultures, each enlivened by the artistry of a Native painter” —Reading on the Road by Alan Tack
“This popular book will help young readers appreciate the power of myth and legend in the lives of all people.” —Southwest Indian Foundation
“The spiders, honeybees, yellow jackets, and mud daubers: these insects still speak — a language that is older than humans. The buffalo, elk, wolf, coyote — they still talk, too. It's we, the people, who have forgotten how to listen.” —Osage Storyteller Archie Mason


Spider Spins A Story is the result of the authors' interest in exploring the recurrence of the spider as a unifying thread in the literature of diverse Native American cultures.

“During the process of meeting storytellers, gathering legends, and researching their tribal significance for this collection, we noticed that many tribes and storytellers tell different versions of the same legends, or similar legends featuring different characters, or variations on a story theme,” the collaborators explain in the collection's preface.
“Likewise, different tribes, bands, clans, families, and even family members do not tell the legends in exactly the same way. Every version is valuable and should be preserved as such. Our hope is that this multi-tribal collection, featuring a variety of spider characters and range of voices, will encourage dialogue among storytellers and listeners of varied backgrounds.”

Giving Back

In gratitude for being allowed to share the stories that appear in the collection, and out of respect and support for the struggles of all American Indians to hold onto their cultures, Kelly Bennett and Ronia (Ronnie) Davidson donate one-third of their earnings from Spider Spins A Story to the American Indian Theatre Company, a multi-tribal organization whose goal is to preserve and share Native American culture and history.

Ajo, thank you to all who are slightly touched by the Spider.


Like the spider's web, which suddenly appears beautifully complete, this collection of legends came from following strands of seemingly disconnected threads:

Jill Max collaborators Kelly and Ronnie had long shared an interest in American Indian culture. Both traveled extensively exploring the diverse, complex traditions. Too, living in Oklahoma, which has the largest number of tribes of any of the United States, provided them an opportunity to meet many tribal elders and storytellers.

However, it wasn't until Navajo weaver and storyteller Sarah Natani, mesmerized them by sharing the story of how Spider Woman gave the Navajo the gift of weaving while tamping down the threads strung on her loom that the pair began to listen for the Spider.