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Native American Words in Longfellow's Hiawatha

Though Hiawatha is an Iroquois hero, Longfellow's poem is set in Minnesota, and most of the Native American words he uses in it come from the Minnesota Indian languages Ojibwe (Chippewa) and Dakota Sioux. The story Longfellow relates, too, is primarily based not on the Iroquois legend of Hiawatha but rather on the Chippewa legend of Nanabozho, a rabbit spirit who was the son of the west wind and raised by his grandmother.

Comparative list of American Indian words recorded by Longfellow

record word
Meaning ascribed
by Longfellow
  Source Language Original Word Meaning
Adjidau'mo the red squirrel Ojibway ajidamoo (na, pl. -g) Red Squirrel
Ahdeek' the reindeer Ojibway adik (na, pl. -wag) Caribou
**Ahkosewin Fever Ojibway aakoziwin (ni, pl. -an) illness
Ahmeek' the beaver Ojibway amik (na, pl. -wag) Beaver
Annemee'kee the thunder Ojibway animikii (na, pl. -g) Thunderbird
Apuk'wa a bulrush Ojibway apakwe (na, pl. -yag) Cattail
Bemah'gut the grape-vine Ojibway biimaakwad (ni, pl. -oon) Bittersweet, Vine
Baim-wa'wa the sound of the thunder Ojibway bimwewe (vii) be heard making a sound
**Black-robe chief the Pale-face
the Prophet
Ojibway mekadewikwanayewi-ogimaa (na, pl. -g) Bishop
(lit. Black-robed Chief)
**Bukadawin Famine Ojibway bakadewin (ni, pl. -an) hunger
Chemaun' a birch canoe Ojibway jiimaan (ni, pl. -an) Canoe, Boat
Chetowaik' the plover ? ? ?
Chibia'bos a musician; friend of Hiawatha;
ruler of the Land of Spirits
Ojibway Jiibayaabooz (na, pl. -oog) Spirit Rabbit
Dahin'da the bull frog Ojibway dende (na, pl. -g) Bullfrog
**Dead-man's Strawberry (not glossed) Ojibway jiibemiijimi-ode'imin (ni, pl. -an) type of poisonous mushroom
(lit.strawberry of the 'Food of the Dead')
or Kwo-ne'-she
the dragon fly Ojibway oboodashkwaanishiinh
(na, pl. oboodashkwaanishiinyag)
Esa shame upon you Ojibway ise (pc) for shame
Ewa-yea' lullaby ? ? ?
Gitche Gu'mee The Big-Sea-Water,
Lake Superior
Ojibway gichi-gami (ni, pl. -in) great lake/sea,
Lake Superior
Gitche Man'ito the Great Spirit,
the Master of Life
Ojibway Gichi-manidoo (na, pl. -g) Great Spirit, God
Gushkewau' the darkness Ojibway gashkii' (vta);
gashkii'waa (vta, ind.)
make someone be pitch-dark;
be pitch-dark
Hiawa'tha the Prophet, the Teacher, son of Mudjekeewis,
the West-Wind and Wenonah, daughter of Nokomis
Onondaga Hayowent'ha (name) He Who Combs
Ia'goo a great boaster and story-teller ? ? ?
Inin'ewug men, or pawns in
the Game of the Bowl
Ojibway inini (na, pl. -wag) man
Ishkoodah' fire,
a comet
Ojibway ishkode (ni, pl. -n) fire
Jee'bi, a ghost, a spirit Ojibway jiibay (na, pl. -ag) corpse, ghost,
spirit of the dead
Joss'akeed a prophet Ojibway jaasakiid (na, pl. jaasakiijig) Jessokid, "Juggler",
Seer of jiisakii (shaking-tent)
Kabibonok'ka North-Wind Ojibway Gaa-biboonokaa Winter-maker,
(lit. that who is full of winter)
Ka'go do not Ojibway gego (pc) do not
Kahgahgee' the raven Ojibway gaagaagi (na, pl. -wag) Raven
Kaw no Ojibway gaa (pc) no, not
Kaween' no indeed Ojibway gaawiin, gaa-wiin (pc) no, not, not indeed
Kayoshk' the sea-gull Ojibway gayaashk (na, pl. -wag) Gull, Seagull,
Kee'go a fish Ojibway giigoonh (na, pl. giigoonyag) Fish
Keeway'din the Northwest wind,
the Home-wind
Ojibway giiwedin (ni, pl. -oon) north,
north wind
Kena'beek a serpent Ojibway ginebig (na, pl. -oog) Snake
Keneu' the great war-eagle Ojibway giniw (na, pl. -ag) Golden Eagle,
war eagle
Keno'zha the pickerel Ojibway ginoozhe (na, pl. -g) Northern Pike
Ko'ko-ko'ho the owl Ojibway gookooko'oo (na, pl. -g) Owl
Kuntasoo' the Game of Plumstones Dakota kantasu' plum stone
Kwa'sind the Strong Man Ojibway? ? ?
Kwo-ne'-she, or
the dragon-fly Ojibway oboodashkwaanishiinh,
dashkwaanishiinh (na, pl. -shiinyag),
Mahnahbe'zee the swan Ojibway maanaabizi (na, pl. -wag) Red Swan, Mute Swan
Mahng the loon Ojibway maang (na, pl. -wag) Loon
Mahnomo'nee wild rice Ojibway manoomin (ni, pl. -an) Wild rice
Ma'ma the woodpecker Ojibway meme (na, pl. -g) Woodpecker
Me'da a medicine-man Ojibway Mide (na, pl. -g) Indian of the Grand Medicine
Meenah'ga the blueberry Ojibway miin (na, pl. miinan);
miinagaawanzh (na, pl. miinagaawanzhiig)
Blueberry [berry];
Blueberry [bush]
Megissog'won, the great Pearl-Feather a magician, and the Manito of Wealth Ojibway Miigisigwan (name) Pearl-feather
Meshinau'wa a pipe-bearer Ojibway mizhinawe (na, pl. -g) pipe-bearer
Minjekah'wun Hiawatha's mittens Ojibway minjikaawan (na, pl. -ag) mitten
Minneha'ha Laughing Water; wife of Hiawatha;
a water-fall in a stream running into
the Mississippi between Fort Snelling
and the Falls of St. Anthony
Dakota mni-haha waterfall
Minne-wa'wa a pleasant sound, as of the wind in the trees Ojibway minowewe (vai/vii) make a good sound
Mishe-Mo'kwa the Great Bear Ojibway Mishi-makwa Great Bear
Mishe-Nah'ma the Great Sturgeon Ojibway Mishi-name Great Sturgeon
Monda'min Indian corn Ojibway mandaamin (ni, pl. -an) Maize, corn
Moon of Bright Nights April Ojibway waasagwane-giizis lunar March-April
(lit. Brightening Moon)
Moon of the Falling Leaves September Ojibway Binaakwii-giizis (na, pl. -oog) Lunar month of
(lit. Fall[ing-leaves] Moon)
Moon of Leaves May Ojibway Zaagibagaa-giizis (na, pl. -oog) May,
(lit. Leaf-budding Moon)
Moon of Strawberries June Ojibway Ode'imini-giizis (na, pl. -oog) June,
(lit. Strawberry Moon)
Mudjekee'wis the West-wind; father of Hiawatha Ojibway majiikiwis (na, pl. -ag) first-born son
Miskodeed' the Spring-Beauty, the Claytonia Virginica Ojibway ? ?
Mudway-aush'ka sound of waves on a shore Ojibway madweyaashkaa (vii) they (waves) are heard breaking on the shore
Mushkoda'sa the grouse Ojibway mashkodese (na, pl. -g) Ruffed Grouse
Nah'ma the sturgeon Ojibway name (na, pl. -wag) Sturgeon
Nah'ma-wusk spearmint Ojibway namewashk (ni, pl. -oon) Spearmint
Na'gow Wudj'oo the Sand Dunes of Lake Superior Ojibway negaw-wajiw sand dune
Nee-ba-naw'-baigs water-spirits Ojibway nibiinaabe (na, pl. -wag) waterling,
Nenemoo'sha sweetheart Ojibway niinimoshenh (na, dep., pl. niinimoshenyag) my sweetheart
Nepah'win sleep Ojibway nibaawin (ni, pl. -an) sleep,
act of sleeping
Noko'mis a grandmother
mother of Wenonah
Ojibway nookomis (na, dep., pl. -ag) my Grandmother
No'sa my father Ojibway noose (na, dep., voc.) [my] Father!
Nush'ka look! look! Ojibway inashke (pc) Look!
Odah'min the strawberry Ojibway ode'imin (ni, pl. -an) Strawberry
Okahha'wis the fresh-water herring Ojibway okeyawis (na, pl. -ag) Herring
Ome'mee the pigeon Ojibway omiimii (na, pl. -g) Passenger Pigeon,
Ona'gon a bowl Ojibway onaagan (ni, pl. -an) Bowl, Dish
Opechee' the robin Ojibway opichi (na, pl. -wag) Robin
Osse'o Son of the Evening Star ? ? ?
Owais'sa the blue-bird Ojibway ozhaawanowesi (na, pl. -wag) Eastern Bluebird
Oweenee' Wife of Osseo ? ? ?
Ozawa'beek a round piece of brass or copper
in the Game of the Bowl
Ojibway ozaawaabik (ni, pl. -oon) Brass,
Pah-puk-kee'na the grasshopper Ojibway bapakine (na, pl. -g) Grasshopper, Locust
Pau'guk death Ojibway ? Flying-skeleton Death Spirit
Pau-Puk-Kee'wis the handsome Yenadizze, the son of Storm Fool Ojibway ? ?
Pone'mah hereafter Ojibway baanimaa (pc) later, afterwards
Pe'boan Winter Ojibway biboon (vii) be Winter
Pem'ican meat of the deer or
buffalo dried and pounded
Cree pimihk‚n (ni, pl. -an) Pemmican
**People of the wooden vessel (not glossed) Ojibway wemitigoozhi (na, pl. -wag) French
(lit. Those of Wooden-Crafts)
Pezhekee' the bison Ojibway bizhiki (na, pl. -wag) Buffalo
Pishnekuh' the brant Ojibway apishi-nika (na, pl. -g) Grey Goose
Puggawau'gan a war-club Ojibway bagamaagan (ni, pl. -an) war-club,
Puk-Wudj'ies little wild men of the woods; pygmies Ojibway bagwajiwinini (na, pl. bagwajiwininiwag) wild man
Sah-sah-je'wun rapids Ojibway zaasijiwan (vii) it (river) flows with a ripple
Segwun' Spring Ojibway ziigwan (vii) be Spring
Sha'da the pelican Ojibway zhede (na, pl. -g) Pelican
Shahbo'min the gooseberry Ojibway zhaaboomin (na, pl. -ag) Gooseberry
Shah-shah long ago ? ? ?
Shaugoda'ya a coward Ojibway zhaagode'e (vai) be cowardly,
(lit. be weak-hearted)
Shawgashee' the craw-fish Ojibway azhaageshii (na, pl. -yag) Crawfish
Shawonda'see the South-Wind Ojibway zhaawandezi (vai) be from the south
Shaw-shaw the swallow Ojibway zhaashaawanibiish (na, pl. -ag) Tree Swallow
**Taquamenaw (unspecified river) Ojibway ? ?
Shesh'ebwug ducks; pieces in the
Game of the Bowl
Ojibway zhiishiib (na, pl. -ag) Duck
Shin'gebis the diver, or grebe Ojibway zhingibis (na, pl. -ag) Least Grebe
Showain'neme'shin pity me Ojibway zhawenim (vta);
zhawenimishin (vta, 2s>1s)
to pity someone;
you have pity on me
Shuh-shuh-gah' the blue heron Ojibway zhashagi (na, pl. -wag) Great Blue Heron
Soan-ge-ta'ha strong-hearted Ojibway zoongide'e (vai) be courageous,
(lit. be strong-hearted)
Subbeka'she the spider Ojibway asabikeshii (na, pl. -yag) Spider
Sugge'me the mosquito Ojibway zagime (na, pl. -g) Mosquito
To'tem family coat-of-arms Ojibway doodem Clan,
Ugh yes Ojibway enh (pc) yes (male usage)
Ugudwash' the sun-fish Ojibway agwadaashi (na, pl. -wag) Sunfish
Unktahee' the God of Water Dakota Unktehi Snake-shaped Water Spirit
Wabas'so the rabbit,
the North
Ojibway waabooz (na, pl. -oog) Rabbit
Wabe'no a magician, a juggler Ojibway waabano (na, pl. -wag) Indian of the Magical Dawn Society
Wabe'no-wusk yarrow Ojibway waabanowashk (ni, pl. -oon) Yarrow
Wa'bun the East-Wind Ojibway waaban (vii) be the east, be dawn
Wa'bun An'nung the Star of the East,
the Morning Star
Ojibway waaban-anang (na) Morning star
Wahono'win a cry of lamentation Ojibway waa'oonowin (ni, pl. -an) howl
Wah-wah-tay'see the fire-fly Ojibway waawaatesi (na, pl. -wag) Firefly
Waubewy'on a white skin wrapper Ojibway waabiwayaan (na, pl. -ag) white-skin wrapper
Wa'wa the wild goose Ojibway wewe (na, pl. -g) Snow Goose
Waw-be-wa'wa the white goose Ojibway waabi-wewe (na, pl. -g) white Snow Goose
Wawonais'sa the whippoorwill Ojibway waa'oonesii (na, pl. -g) Whip-poor-will
Way-muk-kwa'na the caterpillar Ojibway wemakwaayaanenh (na, pl. wemakwaayaanenyag) brown Caterpillar
Weno'nah the eldest daughter; Hiawatha's
mother, daughter of Nokomis
Dakota winona first-born daughter
**White-man's Foot (unknown flower) Ojibway -waabishkikizid
(na, pl.waabishkikizijig)
white-man's foot
(homophone towhite-foot)
Yenadiz'ze an idler and gambler;
an Indian dandy
Ojibway wiinaadizi (vai);
waanaadizid (na, pl. waanaadizijig)
to behave unchastely;
** not listed in the "Vocabulary" section of Longfellow's appendix
2s>1s = second person singular subject forward action to first person singular object
dep. = dependent
ind. = independent order
na = animate noun
ni = inanimate noun
pc = particle
pl. = plural
vai = verb, animate subject intransitive
vii = verb, inanimate subject intransitive
voc. = vocative
vta = verb, animate subject transitive to animate object

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