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Legendary Native American Figures: Kisulkw (Gisoolg)

Name: Kisulkw
Tribal affiliation: Micmac
Alternate spellings: Kisúlkw, Kisu'lkw, Kisu'lk, Kisulk, Kesoolkw, Gisoolg, Keswolk
Pronunciation: kih-soolk-w
Also known as: Kjikinap, Kji-Kinap, Kji-Niskam, the Creator, the Great Spirit
Type: High god, Creator
Related figures in other tribes: Niwaskw (Abenaki), Gitche Manitou (Ojibway), Kitanitowit (Lenape)

Kisulkw (often Anglicized to Gisoolg) is the great creator god of the southern Wabanaki tribes. The name Kisúlkw literally means "Creator." Sometimes Gisoolg is also referred to as Kjikinap (or Kji-Kinap), "the Great Power," or Kji-Niskam ("Great Grandfather" or "Great Lord.") In more modern times, the English phrase Great Spirit (a literal translation of the name for the Creator god in the neighboring Maliseet and Abenaki tribes) has also become more popular.

Gisoolg is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in traditional Micmac folklore, though more modern tales occasionally have the Creator taking human form. It is Gisoolg who created the world, though some details of making the world as we know it today were delegated to the sun god Nakuset or the culture hero Glooskap. "Gisoolg" (or one of its many variant spellings) was used as a translation for "God" in early translations of the Bible into the Mi'kmaq language, and indeed most Mi'kmaq people today consider Gisoolg and the Christian God to be one and the same.

Kisulkw Stories

*Mi'kmaw Creation Story * Gisoolg and the Creation * The World According to the Mi'gmaq * Mi'kmaq Creation:
    Myths about the creation of the world by Gisoolg and Nakuset.
*Kisu'lk Visits:
    Story about Kisu'lk blessing a poor family for their hospitality.
*Kisúlkw and the Míkmaq:
    Gisoolg creates the Mi'kmaq people and the island of Menikuk (Lennox Island.)

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.

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Additional Resources

 We Were Not the Savages
 Mi'kmaq stories
 Mikmaq language
 Micmac culture
 Languages in Nova Scotia
 Eastern Woodland Native Americans
 Algonquian language



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