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Legendary Native American Figures: Kukwes (Kookwes)

Name: Kukwes
Tribal affiliation: Mikmaq
Alternate spellings: Gugws, Gugwes, Kukwej, Kookwes, Kukwees, Gugwech, Kookwe, Gugwe', Gugw, Kookways, Kukwess
Pronunciation: kook-wess
Type: Monster, giant

Kukwes is a kind of man-eating ogre from Mi'kmaq Indian folklore. The Kukwes are greedy, hairy, and sometimes described as having bear-like heads. The name "kukwes" is a diminutive form of Kuku, giant. So "kukwes" literally means something similar to "little giant." "Little" is relative, though-- Kuku (usually spelled Gougou) is sometimes described as being taller than the highest pine trees, which would make her at least 150 feet tall. Kukwes are usually described as around 20-30 feet tall (large enough to carry children in a sack.)

Kukwes Stories

Story of a Kookwes:
    Mi'kmaq folktale about some resourceful children's escape from a hungry Kookwes.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

On the Trail of Elder Brother:
    Traditional stories told by a Mi'kmaq author and illustrator.
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 Mi'kmaq and other Algonquian tribes.
When the Chenoo Howls: Native American Tales of Terror:
    Eerie collection of Native American ghost stories and monster tales, told by an Abenaki storyteller.

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Additional Resources

 We Were Not the Savages
 Mi'kmaq mythology
 Mikmaq language
 Mi'kmaq words
 Language in Nova Scotia
 Eastern Woodlands clothing
 Algonquians



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