The name wolverine comes from an old English diminutive of the word
wolf; however, the French name for wolverine, carcajou--
which is sometimes also used in older English texts-- was borrowed from
Algonquian Indian names for the animal, such as the Mi'kmaq name ki'kwaju or the
Innu name kuekuatsheu.
In Native American folklore, wolverines most often play the roles of bullies or anti-social
trickster characters. Among the Innu people of Labrador and Quebec, Wolverine
is a more benign trickster-transformer who shapes the earth and helps the people as well
as entertaining them with his socially inappropriate misadventures. The Alaskan Athabaskans
admire wolverines for their strength and tenacity, and some Athabaskan tribes use
wolverine teeth as a charm on baby baskets.
And in some tribes of Northern California, wolverines are considered
lucky animals-- they feature in legends as successful gamblers, and seeing a wolverine is a sign
of good fortune to come.