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Legendary Native American Figures: Keoonik

Name: Keoonik
Tribal affiliation: Mi'kmaq
Alternate spellings: Kiwnik, Kiwnik, Kiwonik, Ki-won-ik, Keeoony, Keeoonik
Pronunciation: cue-nick
Also known as: Otter
Type: Trickster, otter

Keoonik is a light-hearted trickster animal of Mi'kmaq folktales. He usually appears in the literal form of a otter and spends his time tricking, robbing, and deceiving the other animals of the forest, especially his trickster rival Ableegumooch. Like modern cartoon characters, Keoonik and Ableegumooch sometimes kill themselves or each other with their tricks and then randomly return to life. Keoonik is the main character of many stories aimed at children. He often behaves foolishly or causes trouble for others, but unlike animal tricksters in some other tribes, is not dangerous or malevolent and rarely causes lasting harm. Ableegumooch and Keoonik are popular characters with storytellers and stories about the two of them have also been borrowed into the folklore of neighboring tribes such as the Maliseet and Penobscot.

Keoonik Stories

The Lazy Rabbit * Rabbit and Otter * Master Rabbit and Keoony the Otter:
    Mi'kmaq stories about rivals Aplikmuj and Kiwnik competing for food.
*Rabbit Calls a Truce:
    A Penobscot story in which Rabbit and Otter team up to save their tribe from starvation.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

On the Trail of Elder Brother:
    Good book of traditional stories told by a Mi'kmaq author and illustrator.
Giants of the Dawnland:
    Another good collection of Wabanaki legends, told by a Penobscot Indian author.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Mi'kmaq and other Algonquian tribes.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Wonderful collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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Additional Resources

 We Were Not the Savages
 Mikmaq myths
 Mikmaq language
 Mikmaq culture
 Nova Scotia language
 The Northeast Woodland
 The Algonquian languages
 Native American Indian animal spirits



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