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Native American Legends: Maneto (Manetoa)

Name: Maneto
Tribal affiliation: Sauk, Fox, Kickapoo, Potawatomi, Miami, Illini
Alternate spellings: Mnedo, Mnito, Mneto, Manetoa, Manetowa, Manet8wa, Kiche Manet8wa, Kichi-Manetowa, Kichimanetowa, Mji-Mnito, Mje-Mneto
Pronunciation: Varies by dialect: usually muh-nay-toh-uh.
Also known as: Great Serpent, Mecikenäpikwa
Type: Lake monster, horned serpent
Related figures in other tribes: Kinepikwa (Shawnee), Pitaskog (Abenaki), Mehne (Cheyenne)

Maneto is an underwater giant serpent, common to the legends of most Algonquian tribes. The name "Maneto" means both "snake" and "spirit" in the Central Algonquian tribes, which has led to some confusion of the part of missionaries and anthropologists-- Gichi Manitou, or "Great Spirit," is used as a name for God in many Algonquian tribes, but missionaries had to give up on a Miami Bible translation where they had tried to use this term because it sounded too much like the name of a Miami snake monster, Kichimanetowa! In the Sauk and Fox tribes, "Kehci Manetowa" is understood to refer to God while "Manetowa" alone refers to a snake. In the Potawatomi tribe, "Gchi-Mnito" is always God, while the giant snake is called "Mji-Mnito" ("terrible snake.") In Kickapoo, "Kehci Manetoa" can still mean either "Great Spirit" or "big snake," depending on context.

Maneto the snake monster is a dreadful man-eating creature that lurks in lakes and rivers and drowns unwary travelers. Manetos have horns and armored scales and are extremely difficult to kill. The only thing a Maneto fears is thunder, for the Thunder Beings are their sworn enemies and have the ability to strike a Maneto dead with thunderbolts.

Maneto Stories

Horned Serpent:
    Encyclopedia article about the Maneto in the folklore of various Native American tribes.
*Thunder Mountain:
    Potawatomi legend about a battle between a thunderbird and a Mnito.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Fox Texts:
    Collection of Fox legends and traditional stories, including one about a disastrous Manetowa dream.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Illinois legends
 Miami-Illinois language
 Kickapoo tribe
 Fox words
 Michigan tribes map
 Eastern Woodland

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