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Native American Legends: Giwakwa

Name: Giwakwa
Tribal affiliation: Abenaki, Penobscot, Malecite, Passamaquoddy
Alternate spellings: Kiwakw, Kewahqu, Kee-wakw, Kewok, Kiwahq, Kewoqu, Kewawkqu', Kewawkgu, Kiwakwe, Kiwákwe, Kiwahkw, Kiwa'kw, Keewaqu', Kee-wowk, Kiawahq', Keewahkwee, Asinikiwakw, A-senee-ki-wakw
Pronunciation: gee-wock-wah (in Abenaki-Penobscot) or keh-wah-kwoo (in Maliseet-Passamaquoddy.)
Also known as: Giwakweska, Giwakweskwa, or Kiwakweskwa (feminine form), Kiwahqiyik (plural)
Type: Native monster, ice cannibal
Related figures in other tribes: Chenoos (Micmac), Windigos (Anishinabe), Witikos (Cree), Stonecoats (Iroquois)

Giwakwas (or Kee-wakw) are the evil man-eating ice giants of southern Wabanaki legends. According to most legends, a Giwakwa was once a human being who either became possessed by an evil spirit or committed a terrible crime (especially cannibalism or withholding food from a starving person), causing his heart to turn to ice. In some Abenaki legends, the stone giants (Asinikiwakw) were not transformed humans but primordial man-eating monsters, defeated by the culture hero Gluskabi.

Giwakwa Stories

*Cannibal Giants of the Snowy Northern Forest:
    Article about the Giwakwa and other ice monsters of the northern Algonquian tribes.
Story of the Great Chenoo:
    Several Passamaquoddy legends about Kewahqu'.
The Young Man who was Saved by a Rabbit:
    Passamaquoddy story of a hero who defeated a Kewahqu with the help of Rabbit.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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When the Chenoo Howls: Native American Tales of Terror:
    Collection of spooky stories by an Abenaki storyteller about the Keewahkwee and other Native American monsters.
Giants of the Dawnland:
    A good collection of Wabanaki legends told by a Penobscot Indian author.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Maliseet and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Abenaki mythology
 Abenaki Indians
 Penobscot culture
 Passamaquoddy nation
 Algonquin Maine
 Eastern Woodland Native
 Algonquian alphabet

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