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Legendary Native American Figures: Makunaima (Macunaima)

Name: Makunaima
Tribal affiliation: Akawaio, Pemon, Macushi, Carib
Alternate spellings: Macunaima, Makonaima, MakonŠima, Mackonaima, Makenaima
Pronunciation: mah-koo-nye-mah
Type: Creator, culture hero, high god
Related figures in other tribes: Kururumany (Arawak)

Makunaima is the name of the great Creator god of the Akawaio and neighboring Cariban tribes. The name Makunaima literally means "He Works By Night." Traditional Cariban cosmology has become very muddled since the arrival of Christian missionaries. Though older myths feature Makunaima as a legendary culture hero who slays monsters, in more recent texts, these exploits are usually ascribed to Sigu instead, while Makunaima is translated as "God" or "Great Spirit" and is not personified. Indeed, Makunaima is often said never to have been seen by mortal man.

Makunaima Stories

*Acawai Flood Myth:
    Akawaio legend about Makunaima, his son Sigu, and the World Tree.
*Legends of the Acawoios:
    Collection of Akawaio legends and folktales, beginning with Makonaima's creation of the world.
*The Sun, the Frog, and the Fire-Sticks:
    A Guyanese Carib legend about Makunaima and his twin brother Pia.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Rain Forest Literatures: Amazonian Texts and Latin American Culture:
    An interesting compilation of traditional Arawak, Carib, and Guarani stories.
Guyana Legends: Folk Tales of the Indigenous Amerindians:
    Good collection of Cariban and Arawakan mythology from Guyana.

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Additional Resources

 A Carib Grammar and Dictionary
 Pemon myths
 Pemon language
 Akawaio language
 Macushi language
 Brazil Indians
 Caribbean culture and language
 Caribans



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