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Algonquin Legends, Myths, and Stories (Algonkin)

This is our index of Algonquin folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have organized our Native American legends section by tribe to make them easier to locate; however, variants on the same legend are often told by American Indians from different tribes, especially if those tribes are kinfolk or neighbors to each other, so you may also want to visit our page comparing the stories from the Anishinaabe tribes (which include the Chippewa, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Algonquin Indians), since the traditional stories of those tribes are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend an Algonquin legend for this page, please let us know.

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Important Algonquin Mythological Figures

Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Algonquin mythology.

Nanabozho or Wisakedjak (also spelled Nanabojo, Nanaboozhoo, Wisakejak, and several other ways.) This is the benevolent culture hero of the Anishinabe tribes (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.) Nanabozho/Wisakedjak shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki Glooskap and Blackfoot Napi, and many of the same stories are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing. Nanabozho is pronounced nah-nah-boh-zhoh in Algonquin, and Wisakedjak is pronounced wee-sah-kay-jock.

Michabo (also spelled Michabou): This is actually just another name referring to Nanabozho-- it is a French corruption of the Algonquin word Mishābōz, which means "Great Hare." Nanabozho is associated with rabbits and sometimes appears as a rabbit in Algonquin stories, which is why he is sometimes called by this title. The Algonquin name is pronounced mih-shah-bose; the French name is pronounced mih-shah-bo or mih-shah-boo; and the English name is usually pronounced mih-chah-bo.

Kichi Manido: This means "Great Spirit" in the Algonquin language, and is the Algonquin name for the Creator (God.) Kichi Manido is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in Algonquin mythology. The name is pronounced kih-chee muh-nih-doh.

Nokomis (also spelled Nōkomis): Nanabozho's wise old grandmother, who raised him. Pronounced noh-koh-miss.

Kichi-Odjig (Great Fisher): An animal-spirit hero common to many Algonquin Indian myths, who slew monsters, set the seasons in motion, and is represented as the "Big Dipper" constellation of stars.

Widjigo (also spelled Wėdjigō): An evil man-eating spirit. Widjigos play the roles of monsters and bogeymen in some Algonquin myths; in others, Algonquin people who commit sins (especially selfishness, gluttony, or cannibalism) are turned into a Widjigo as punishment. Their name is pronounced wee-jih-goh in the Algonquin language, but today they are better-known by their Ojibwe name, Windigo.

Pagwadjinini (also spelled Pagwadjininė): Mythological little people of the forests. Their name means "wild man" and is pronounced similar to pug-wuh-jih-nih-nee. Pagwadjininis are mischievious but generally good-natured beings in Algonquin Indian stories.

Memegwesi (also spelled Memegwesė): Small water spirits, usually said to inhabit waterfalls or riverbanks. They are also generally benign creatures, but sometimes blow canoes astray or steal things when they are not shown proper respect. Their name is pronounced may-may-gway-see.

Mishiginebig: An underwater horned serpent, common to the legends of most Algonquian tribes, which is said to lurk in lakes and eat humans. Its name literally means Great Serpent and is pronounced mih-shih-gih-nay-big.

Water Panther (Algonquin name Mishibijiw): A powerful mythological creature something like a cross between a cougar and a dragon. It is a dangerous monster that lives in deep water and causes men and women to drown. Its Algonquin name is pronounced mih-shih-bih-zhew.

Onimikė or Pinesė: Thunderbird, a giant mythological bird common to the northern and western tribes. Thunder is caused by the beating of their immense wings. Although thunderbirds are very powerful beings, they rarely bother humans, and were treated with reverence by Algonquin people. Onimikė, which means "thunderer," is pronounced o-nih-mih-kee, and Pinesė, which means "great bird," is pronounced pih-nay-see.

Bi-bon: The spirit of the North Wind, who brings winter to the land. His name is pronounced similar to pih-boon or pih-bone.

Algonquin Folklore

*Nanabojo * Wisakedjak * Nanabozho:
    Articles on the Algonquin culture hero.
*Algonquin Legends:
    Online collection of Algonquin Indian legends.
*Algonquin Storytelling:
    Information about Algonquin myth and storytelling traditions.
*Tales from the Land of Deep Water:
    Collection of Algonquin legends and folk traditions from the Temagami band.
*Nanabozho and the Algonquin Story of the Creation of the World :
    Algonquin legends about the beginning of the world.
*Algon and the Sky-Girl:
    Algonquin legend of a man who married a star.
*Algonquin Flood Myth:
    Algonquin Indian legend about the flooding of the earth.
*Legends and Folklore of the Northern Lights:
    Aurora Borealis stories from the Algonquin, Makah, and Tlingit tribes.
*The Spirit Bride:
    Algonquin Indian legend of a man's visit to the afterworld.

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Recommended Books on Algonquin Mythology

Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Algonquian tribes.
Myths and Folk-Lore of the Timiskaming Algonquin and Timagami Ojibwa:
    Classic collection of Ojibway and Algonquin legends.
Great Rabbit and the Long-Tailed Wildcat:
    Children's book illustrating an Algonquin legend about how Wildcat lost his tail.

Additional Resources

 The Algonquins
 Algonquin religion
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American spirituality
 Anishinabe words
 Indian tribes of Canada
 Woodlands Indian tribes
 Algonquian languages
 Algonquin culture
 Native American Indian website



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