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Native American Wolverine Mythology

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.

Native American Wolverine Gods and Spirits

Kuekuatsheu (Innu)
Loks (Wabanaki)

Native American Legends About Wolverines

Wolverine the Creator:
    Brief telling of an Innu Wolverine legend about the creation of the world.
Indian Wolverine Story:
    Innu legend about Wolverine tricking a group of gullible ducks and geese.
Wolverine and Bear:
    Micmac-Maliseet legend about Lox the Wolverine misusing his magical powers.
Lox:
    Maliseet legends about Wolverine killing other animals.
*The Girls Who Wished to Marry Stars * Two Water Fairies Who Were Also Weasels:
    Algonquian Indian legends about Wolverine being tricked by flirtatious women.
*Kuikuhchu and Wniyyu * Legend of the Giant Skunk:
    Two Wolverine legends about the defeat of a giant skunk monster.

Recommended Books of Wolverine Stories from Native American Myth and Legend

Wolverine Myths and Visions: Dene Traditions from Northern Alberta:
    Excellent collection of northern Athabaskan legends about Wolf and Wolverine spirits.
Wolverine Creates the World: Labrador Indian Tales:
    A good collection of Wolverine folklore from the Innu and neighboring tribes. (Note that this is not necessarily
    a children's book-- Wolverine tales tend to involve a lot of earthy humor in the northeast woodlands region.)
Spirit of the Earth: A Guide to Native American Nature Symbols, Stories, and Ceremonies:
    Book by a Karuk elder about the meanings of Indian animal spirits, including a chapter on wolverines.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Great collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.



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