Native American Myths

The King of Sharks

A Native American Myth

from Hawaii

retold by

S. E. Schlosser

One day, the King of Sharks saw a beautiful girl swimming near the shore. He immediately fell in love with the girl. Transforming himself into a handsome man, he dressed himself in the feathered cape of a chief and followed her to her village.

The villagers were thrilled by the visit of a foreign chief. They made a great luau, with feasting and games. The King of Sharks won every game, and the girl was delighted when he asked to marry with her.

The King of Sharks lived happily with his bride in a house near a waterfall. The King of Sharks, in his human form, would swim daily in the pool of water beneath the falls. Sometimes he would stay underneath the water so long that his bride would grow frightened. But the King of Sharks reassured her, telling her that he was making a place at the bottom of the pool for their son.

Before the birth of the child, the King of Sharks returned to his people. He made his wife swear that she would always keep his feathered cape about the shoulders of their son. When the child was born, his mother saw a mark upon his back which looked like the mouth of a shark. It was then she realized who her husband had been.

The child's name was Nanave. As he grew towards manhood, Nanave would swim daily in the pool beside the house. Sometimes, his mother would gaze into the pool and see a shark swimming beneath the water.

Each morning, Nanave would stand beside the pool, the feathered cloak about his shoulders, and would ask the passing fishermen where they were going to fish that day. The fisherman always told the friendly youth where they intended to go. Then Nanave would dive into the pool and disappear for hours.

The fishermen soon noticed that they were catching fewer and fewer fish. The people of their village were growing hungry. The chief of the village called the people to the temple. "There is a bad god among us," the chief told the people. "He prevents our fishermen from catching fish. I will use my magic to find him." The chief laid out a bed of leaves. He instructed all the men and boys to walk among the leaves. A human's feet would bruise the tender leaves, but the feet of a god would leave no mark.

Nanave's mother was frightened. She knew her son was the child of a god, and he would be killed if the people discovered his identity. When it came turn for the youth to walk across the leaves, he ran fast, and slipped. A man caught at the feathered cape Nanave always wore to prevent him from being hurt. But the cape fell from the youth's shoulders, and all the people could see the shark's mouth upon his back.

The people chased Nanave out of the village, but he slipped away from them and dived into the pool. The people threw big rocks into the pool, filling it up. They thought they had killed Nanave. But his mother remembered that the King of Sharks had made a place for her son at the bottom of the pool, a passage that led to the ocean. Nanave had taken the form of a shark and had swum out to join his father, the King of Sharks, in the sea.

But since then, the fishermen have never told anyone where they go to fish, for fear the sharks will hear and chase the fish away.



This is a good story!

wow this is amazing i love myths and legends

That was a very good story i agree with you Nathan!

this is the best myth ever that i read

luv dis story

nice story i love shark stories.......

While I was happy to see at least one story for Hawai'i it was truly not reflective of the MANY legends our islands have.
Most significant is the fact that our native language NEVER uses the letter "v" so it must be from the South Pacific or have an error.

thiis is a reaaly cool story i loved iit :)

awwwwsome story i heard wow....

sweet story

Awesome Folkatale!!!!!!! My aunt and uncle lived in Hawaii. And I love Sharks ever since i was a little girl I lOVED the movie Jaws!

this was a good story

really good

very interesting story

wow das wuz up i love this kind of storys....


this story is awesome

This story is better than the opossum story and the mammoth story put together!!!

it is really a cute story

this is an awsome myth, i am going to use it for my journal!!!

Good post. We (First Nations) view these "myths" as teaching stories and a way to keep our oral history alive. They are extremely important to our traditional way of life. Here is an example of such a teaching story that deals with the near-universal "world flood" concept:


WOW!!! this is a really good myth! i love learning about native American story's!

this is the best


theres no way that they can say its a boring story!

its sooo cooooollllllllll theres no way u can hate it

wow u should b an auther!!! for these kinds of stories...

This is a very intersting story and I enjoyed it.

great story best one ive ever heard! i love it!

this was cool

The story reminds me of jaws

that was awesome

amazing story and i love sharks so loved it!!! ps save the sharks!!!!

Wow! wat an exciting story! ooh! I luv it.

i love this store it is the best

the best stary ever

Famous characters Ghost Stories Folktales


Schlosser, author of the Spooky Series

About the Author: S.E. Schlosser

S.E. Schlosser is the author of the Spooky Series by Globe Pequot Press, as well as the Ghost Stories deck by Random House.  She has been telling stories since she was a child, when games of "let's pretend" quickly built themselves into full-length tales acted out with friends. A graduate of both Houghton College and the Institute of Children's Literature, Sandy received her MLS from Rutgers University while working as a full-time music teacher and a freelance author. Read more

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