Native Indian languages * First Nations people * Indigenous tribes

Native Languages of the Americas:
Ojibwe/Chippewa Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our collection of links to Chippewa folktales and traditional stories that can be read online. We have indexed 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 Algonquin, Ottawa, Potawatomi, and Chippewa Indians), since the traditional stories of those tribes are very similar.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Chippewa legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Chippewa Mythological Figures

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

Wenabozho (also spelled Waynaboozhoo, Nanabozho, Nanabushu, Nanabush, Manabozho, Minabozho, and several other ways.) Wenabozho is the benevolent culture hero of the Anishinaabe tribes (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.) His name is spelled so many different ways partially because the Anishinabe languages were originally unwritten (so English speakers just spelled it however it sounded to them at the time), and partially because the Ojibway and Algonquin languages are spoken across a huge geographical range in both Canada and the US, and the name sounds different in different dialects. The correct pronounciation here in Minnesota is similar to way-nuh-boo-zhoo, but in other places in the Anishinabe world it is pronounced nay-nuh-boo-zhoo, nain-boo-zhoo, nain-bozh, nay-nuh-boash, or mah-nah-boo-zhoo. Wenabozho shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki Glooskap, Blackfoot Napi, and Cree Wesakechak, and many of the same stories are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.

Michabo (also spelled Michabou, Mishabooz, and other ways): This is actually just another name referring to Wenabozho-- it is a French corruption of the Ojibwe word Mishaabooz, which means "Great Hare." Wenabozho is associated with rabbits in Algonquin and Ojibwe mythology, which is why he is sometimes called by this title. The Ojibwe name is pronounced mih-shah-bose or mih-shah-boos; the French name is pronounced mih-shah-bo or mih-shah-boo; and the English name is usually pronounced mih-chah-bo.

Gichi Manidoo (also spelled Gitchi Manitou and other ways): This means "Great Spirit" in the Ojibwe language, and is the Ojibwe name for the Creator (God.) Gichi-Manidoo is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in Ojibwe legends. The name is pronounced similar to gih-chee muh-nih-doh or gih-chee muh-nih-doo, depending on dialect.

Nookomis (also spelled Nookomis): Wenaboozhoo's wise old grandmother, who raised him. Her name just means "grandmother" in the Ojibway language, and is pronounced noh-koh-miss or noo-koh-miss, depending on dialect.

Jiibayaabooz: According to some Ojibwe legends Jiibayaabooz was Manabozho's brother, who was killed by evil water spirits and became the ruler of the land of the dead. His name is pronounced similar to jee-bee-ah-booze.

Windigo (also spelled Wiindigoo): An evil man-eating spirit. Windigos play the roles of monsters and bogeymen in some Chippewa legends; in others, Chippewa people who commit sins (especially selfishness, gluttony, or cannibalism) are turned into Windigos as punishment. It is pronounced ween-dih-goh or ween-dih-goo in the Chippewa language, depending on dialect.

Aayaash (also spelled Iyash, Ayashe, and other ways): An epic hero who defeats many monsters and changes the form of humans and animals to make life better. In some Ojibwe tales, Aayaash is also said to be responsible for the World Fire in which the earth was destroyed and reborn.

Waagoshii-Mindimooye (Fox Old Woman): A minor animal spirit, a wise elder who appears sometimes in the form of a fox, other times in the form of an old lady. Waagoshii-Mindimooye plays an important role in the epic of Aayaash, where she adopts the hero as her grandson and gives him advice and items of power to use in his quest.

Gichi-Ojiig (Great Fisher): An animal-spirit hero who slew monsters, set the seasons in motion, and is represented as the "Big Dipper" constellation of stars.

Mandaamin (also spelled Mondawmin, Mondamin, and other ways.) The spirit of the corn. Unlike in most Algonquian tribes, Ojibway myths portray the corn spirit as male. His name is pronounced mun-dah-min and literally means "Corn."

Bagwajiwinini (or Puk-Wudjies): Mythological little people of the forests. Their name means "wild man" and is pronounced similar to bug-wuh-jih-wih-nih-nee or buh-gwuh-jih-nih-nee, depending on dialect. (In some communities these creatures are called Apa'iins or Pai'iins instead, which literally means "little person.") In most Ojibwe stories, Pukwudjininees are portrayed as mischievious but generally good-natured beings.

Memegwesi (also spelled Memengwesi): Small riverbank-dwelling water spirits. They are also generally benign creatures, but sometimes blow canoes astray or steal things when they are not shown proper respect.

Nibiinaabe: Another race of water-spirits. These are shaped like mermaids, with human torsos and fish tails.

Underwater Panther (Ojibwe name Mishibizhiw): A powerful mythological creature something like a cross between a cougar and a dragon. It is a dangerous monster who lives in deep water and causes men and women to drown.

Misiginebig (also known as Mishi-Ginebig or Kichikinebik): An underwater horned serpent, common to the legends of most Algonquian tribes. Its name literally means Great Serpent, and it is said to lurk in lakes and eat humans.

Animikii or Binesi (also spelled Animiki, Nimkii, Bnesi, Bineshi, and other ways): 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 Ojibwe people. Animikii, which means "thunderer," is pronounced uh-nih-mih-kee, and Binesi, which means "great bird," is pronounced bih-nay-sih.

Biboon (also known as Beboonikae or Winter-Maker): The spirit of the North Wind, who brings winter to the land. His name is pronounced bih-boon or bih-bone, depending on dialect.

Chakabesh: A folk hero of Cree and Northern Ojibwa mythology, sometimes referred to as the Man in the Moon. He is usually depicted as a dwarf. In some Ojibway stories Chakabesh acts in a rash or foolish way, especially tending to ignore the good advice of his older sister, but he is brave and good-hearted and never stays in trouble for long. His name is pronounced similar to chuh-kah-baish.

Aniwye (also known as Mishi-zhigaag): A giant man-eating skunk monster that killed people with his poisonous spray. After his defeat this monster became the origin of ordinary skunks.

Chippewa Folklore

*Nanabozho and the Creation of the World:
    The Ojibwe myth of creation.
*Wenabozho * About Nanabosho * Nanabozho:
    Articles about the Chippewa culture hero.
*Wenebojo Stories and other Chippewa Tales:
    Chippewa Indian stories about Wenebojo's adventures.
*Anishinabe Children's Stories:
    Fourteen Ojibway legends told by Wisconsin Chippewa students.
*Tales from the Land of Deep Water:
    Collection of Ojibway legends and folk traditions from the Temagami band.
*Saga of Iyash:
    Online legends in English and Oji-Cree.
*A Gust Of Wind * The Birth of Wenabozho:
    Ojibway stories about Weneboozhoo's birth.
*Wunzh, Father of Indian Corn * Mon-Daw-Min * The Legend of Indian Corn:
    Chippewa myths about the origin of corn.
*Manabozho and the Muskrat * Nanabozho and the Origin of the Earth * How Muskrat Created The World:
    Chippewa Indian legends telling how Muskrat helped create the earth.
*The Creation of Turtle Island:
    An Ojibwa storyteller's version of the creation of the earth.
*Waynaboozhoo and the Great Flood:
    Another version of the Ojibwe creation story, this time with Coot being the one to retrieve land for Nanabozho.
*Great Serpent and the Great Flood:
    Chippewa story about a legendary flood.
*How Dogs Came To The Ojibwas:
    Ojibway legend of a Windigo and a loyal dog.
*How Fisher Went to the Skyland:
    Ojibwe legend about the Big Dipper.
*Manabozho and the Theft of Fire * How the Birch Tree Got Its Burns:
    Ojibwa myths about Nanabozho and the origin of fire.
*The Dream Fast * The Boy Who Became A Robin:
    Chippewa Indian legends about the first robin.
*Manabozh's Adventures:
    Stories of Manabozho's exploits from the Ojibwa and Menominee tribes.
*Manabozho and the Maple Trees:
    Ojibwe tale about the origin of maple sugar.
*The Girls Who Wished to Marry Stars:
    Ojibwe legend about two foolish girls.
*The Girl and the Windigo * The Windigo Baby:
    Ojibwa legends about the fearsome windigo monsters.
*Mishebeshu * The Underwater Panther:
    Ojibwa stories about the water monster Mishebeshu.
*Why Porcupine Has Quills:
    Ojibwe story telling how Nanabozho helped Porcupine become prickly.
*Skunk Woman * Chicago:
    Ojibwe legends about a man whose wife turned into a skunk.
*Cannibal Giants of the Snowy Northern Forest:
    Article about the Windigo and other ice monsters of the northern Algonquian tribes.
Sky Stories: Indigenous Astronomy:
    The role of celestial bodies in Anishinabe tradition.
*Indian Why Stories:
    Online collection of Blackfoot and Chippewa legends from Montana.
*The Meadow Dandelion * Shawondasee and the Golden Girl:
    Ojibway folktales about the South Wind and the Dandelion.

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Recommended Books on Chippewa Myth
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

Living Our Language:
    Good collection of Ojibwe myths and oral histories.
The Mishomis Book: Voice of the Ojibway:
    Excellent book by a Native author exploring Ojibway legends and traditions.
Ojibway Tales:
    Book of short stories about Anishinabe life told by an Ojibway author.
Ojibway Ceremonies:
    A good book on Anishinabe spirituality and ritual life by an Ojibway author.
The Dog's Children: Anishinaabe Texts:
    Traditional Chippewa stories written in Ojibwe with English translations.
Myths and Folk-Lore of the Timiskaming Algonquin and Timagami Ojibwa:
    Collection of Algonquin and Ojibway mythology.
Mermaids and Medicine Women:
    Ojibwe folktales about mythological female spirits, told by a Native author.
Strength of the Earth: The Classic Guide to Ojibwe Uses of Native Plants:
    Book of Ojibwe traditions regarding woodland and prairie plants.
Ininatig's Gift of Sugar:
    A wonderful book for kids illustrating Anishinabe traditions of maple sugarmaking in the past and present.
*The Birth of Nanabosho * Nanabosho Steals Fire * Nanabosho Dances * Nanobosho, Soaring Eagle, and Great Sturgeon:
    Series of well-told Ojibwe stories by a Native Author. The first one, Birth of Nanabosho, is especially good.
Shingebiss: An Ojibwe Legend:
    Children's book depicting an Ojibwe story about a persevering duck.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Ojibwe and other Algonquian tribes.

Additional Resources

 Midewiwin: secret Ojibwa medicine society
 Indian beliefs
 Ojibwe words
 Indian tribes of Minnesota
 Eastern Woodlands tribes
 Algonquian Indians
 Chippewa culture
 American Indian websites

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