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Legendary Native American Figures: Lusifee (Lucivee)
Tribal affiliation: Maliseet, Passamaquoddy,
Alternate spellings: Lucifee, Lucivee
Also known as: Wildcat
Type: Villain, lynx
Lusifee is a wildcat spirit of
northern Wabanaki folklore, usually portrayed as malevolent and greedy.
Nobody seems to be 100% certain of the origin of the name Lusifee. It is often said to
have a Native American etymology, but as far as we know that is not the case.
Neither Lusifee nor Lucivee has any meaning in the Mi'kmaq or
Maliseet-Passamaquoddy languages-- indeed, there are not even any "F" or "V" sounds in those
languages. Some Wabanaki people believe Lucivee is actually the same character as
a malevolent wolverine character of traditional legends, and that the name
"Lucivee" is an English or French corruption of the Algonquian name Luks.
Other people think "Lucifee" may have come from the name
Lucifer, and that the character may have been a personification of the devil
influenced by European folk stories. But the likeliest source of his name is
probably the French-Canadian word for "lynx," "loup-cervier"
(pronounced similar to loo-sir-vyay, which could easily be corrupted to loo-sih-fee.)
Lynx did not live in large portions of Mi'kmaq and Maliseet territory
(in particular, there have never been lynx in Nova Scotia as far as I know,) so it's
quite possible that tribes in those areas could have ended up borrowing
stories about this animal from French-speaking voyageurs. It's also possible that
Lucivee stories came from Mi'kmaq and Maliseet communities in western
New Brunswick or Quebec, where lynx do live, and the storytellers just happened
to confuse folklorists by using the French name for the animal instead of a
Native American Lusifee Stories
Run, Rabbit, Run Mahtigwess and Lucifee:
Mi'kmaq and Passamquoddy stories about Lusifee being outwitted by the trickster Rabbit.
Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
Giants of the Dawnland:
A good collection of Wabanaki legends told by a Penobscot Indian author.
On the Trail of Elder Brother:
Another good book of traditional Wabanaki stories, told by a Mi'kmaq author and illustrator.
Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Mi'kmaq and other Algonquian tribes.
Native American Animal Stories:
Engaging collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
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