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Legendary Native American Figures: Glooskap (Glooscap)



Name: Glooskap
Tribal affiliation: Abenaki, Penobscot, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Micmac
Alternate spellings: Glooscap, Glooskap, Gluskabe, Gluskap, Koluscap, Kuloscap, Kluskap, Gluskabi, Gluskonba, Gluskôba, Gluskoba, Kloskabe, Kuluskap, Klouskap, Glousgap, Gluskab, Klosgab, Glouscap, Gluskape, Glusk8ba, Klosk8ba, Gluskoba, Glous'gap, Gloosekap, Gloskap, Gluskap, Kloskap, Kloskurbeh
Pronunciation: klue-skopp or kuh-loo-skopp in Micmac, Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy; glue-skaw-buh in Abenaki and Penobscot
Type: Culture hero, Transformer, trickster
Related figures in other tribes: Nanabozho (Anishinabe), Napi (Blackfoot), Wesakaychak (Cree)

Glooscap is the benevolent culture hero of the Wabanaki tribes of northeast New England. His name is spelled so many different ways for two reasons: first, these tribes spoke slightly different languages, and second, the languages were traditionally unwritten, so English speakers just spelled the name however it sounded to them at the time. Although some people have said "Glooscap" means "Man From Nothing" (or "Man who made himself from nothing,") that is incorrect-- it is a different Abenaki character, Odzihozo, whose name has that meaning. Glooscap actually means "liar" (the Maliseet-Passamaquoddy word for "to tell lies" is koluskapiw, and in Mi'kmaq, it is kluskapewit.) According to legend, Glooscap got this name after lying about his secret weakness to an evil spirit (in some stories, his own brother) and therefore escaping from a murder plot.

Since stories about Glooskap have been told in so many different communities, details about his life tend to vary a lot. In most accounts Glooskap is said to have been created directly by the Great Spirit, but in others, he was born to a mother who died in childbirth. Glooskap has a grandmother Woodchuck in most tribal traditions (usually his adopted grandmother, but sometimes his natural grandmother), and sometimes also had a brother (either an older brother Mikumwesu or Mateguas, a younger brother Malsum, or an adopted brother Marten.) In some legends, Glooskap created the Wabanaki tribes himself, while in others, it was the Great Spirit who created them and Glooskap stepped in to teach them the arts of civilization. In any case, Glooskap is always portrayed as a virtuous hero and a good caretaker and teacher of the Wabanaki people. Sometimes he plays the role of a transformer, changing monsters into harmless animals and adapting the landscape to be more favorable to the people. Glooskap sometimes also plays the role of a trickster, but only in the mischievous/humorous sense, never the antagonistic/culturally inappropriate sense. Glooskap does not commit crimes or chase women (in fact, he is a confirmed bachelor in most legends.) In many traditions, Glooskap leaves the land of the Wabanakis at the end of the mythic age, promising to return one day if they have need of him.

Glooskap/Glooscap Stories

Glooscap * Gluskab * Glooscap * Glooskap:
    Introductions to the Wabanaki demigod Glooscap.
*Koluskap: Stories from Wolastoqiyik:
    Nineteen Maliseet stories about Glooskap.
*Kluskap Tales from the Malecite:
    Glooskap myths told by another Maliseet storyteller.
*Glooscap Myths:
    Three Glooscap legends of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia.
*The Creation of Kluskap * Glooskap and the Micmac Creation * Glooscap and the the Mi'gmaq World * Kisulk, Niskam and Kluskap:
    Micmac accounts of Glooskap's origins.
*Gluskonba Makes The People:
    Abenaki legend in which Glooskap makes the first people.
*Kloskurbeh, the great teacher:
    Abenaki legend in which Glooskap receives and guides the first people.
*Glooscap and the Water Monster * Koluscap and the Giant Skunk * Koluskap and the Giant Beaver:
    Glooskap and the Bull-Frog * How Glooscap Created Sugarloaf Mountain * Gluskabe and the Monster Frog:
    Glooskap protects the people by turning monsters into animals.
Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle * Why We Need Wind * The Bird whose Wings Made the Wind:
    Glooscap decides to stop the wind from blowing, and learns a lesson about the world.
Glooskap and Mikchich * Mikcheech and Glooscap * Turtle Marries the Chief's Daughter:
    The adventures of Glooskap and his uncle the Turtle.
Glooscap and the Baby * Gluskabe and Dzeedzeez:
    Glooskap is outmatched by a baby. (Wasis means "baby" in Passamaquoddy, and Dzeedzees means "baby" in Abenaki.)
*Gluskonba and the Four Wishes: * The First Pine Trees * Glooskap and the Fearful Warrior * Glooskap Grants Three Wishes:
    Glooscap grants wishes to Wabanaki men, but not all their wishes turn out as they imagined.
*Glooscap and Winpe:
    Mi'kmaq legend about Glooscap winning the first game of lacrosse.
*How Gluskabe Stole Tobacco:
    Grasshopper tries to keep the gift of tobacco for himself, but is outwitted by Glooscap.
*Glooscap and the Rabbit:
    Rabbit plays a trick on the other animals, but he can't fool Glooscap.
*How Glooskap Found the Summer:
    Micmac legend about Glooskap and the seasons.
*Nukumi and Fire:
    The origin of Glooscap's grandmother.
*Glooscap Turns Bad Into Good:
    Glooscap creates landmarks on the St. John River. In English, Micmac, and Maliseet.
Gluskabe Changes Maple Syrup:
    Abenaki myth about Glooskap creating maple syrup.

Recommended Books of Glooskap Stories

On the Trail of Elder Brother:
    A good collection of traditional Koluscap stories told by a Mi'kmaq author and illustrator.
Gluskabe Stories:
    Audio tape of Gluskap legends told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Seven Eyes, Seven Legs: Supernatural Stories of the Abenaki:
    Good book of myths and folktales told and illustrated by an Abenaki author.
Gluskabe and the Four Wishes:
    Children's picture book illustrating a Gluskabe legend.

Additional Resources

 Mikmaq myths
 Abenaki myths
 Abenaki language
 Mi'kmaq words
 Maliseet words
 Maine languages
 Eastern Woodland cultures
 The Algonkians



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