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Legendary Native American Figures: Mahtoqehs (Mahtigwess)

Name: Mahtoqehs
Tribal affiliation: Passamaquoddy, Maliseet
Alternate spellings: Mahtigwess, Mategwes, Chematiquess
Pronunciation: mah-tuh-gwass
Also known as: Great Rabbit
Type: Trickster, rabbit
Related figures in other tribes: Ableegumooch (Mi'kmaq)

Mahtoqehs is a light-hearted trickster animal of Maliseet-Passamaquoddy folktales. He usually appears in the literal form of a rabbit and spends his time tricking, robbing, and deceiving the other animals of the forest. Like modern cartoon characters, Mahtoqehs sometimes dies as a result of his capricious behavior and then randomly returns to life. Mahtoqehs is the main character of many stories aimed at children. He often behaves foolishly or causes trouble for others, but unlike animal tricksters in some other tribes, Mahtoqehs is never dangerous or malevolent, and is sometimes said to be a friend of Kluskap.

Mahtoqehs Stories

*How Rabbit Got Long Ears:
    Mahtoqehs plays a trick on the other animals, but he can't fool Glooscap.
*How the Rabbit Lost His Tail * How Master Rabbit Went To A Wedding:
    In this folktale, Mahtoqehs gets his unusual appearance by helping a friend out of a pit.
    (In the second version, he then absconds with his friend's wife, but that's tricksters for you...)
*Mahtigwess and Lusifee:
    Passamaquoddy story about Mahtoqehs outwitting a murderous lynx.
*How Master Rabbit Gave Himself Airs:
    In this story, Mahtigwess pretends to be a fancy gentleman and outtalks Marten.
The Young Man who was Saved by a Rabbit:
    Passamaquoddy story of a hero who defeated a Kewahqu with the help of Rabbit.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

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 Maliseet and other Algonquian tribes.
Native American Animal Stories:
    American Indian tales about animals, expertly told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

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Additional Resources

 Twelve Thousand Years
 Maliseet words
 Language of Maine
 Eastern Woodlands tribes
 Algonkians
 Indian animal spirits



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