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Legendary Native American Figures: Matanto (Matantu)

Name: Matanto
Tribal affiliation: Lenape, Munsee
Alternate spellings: Matantu, Mahtantu, Matantoow, Mtantoow, Mtan-toow, Muttontoe, Mahtan'tu, Matantu
Pronunciation: muh-tun-toh or muh-tun-too
Type: Antagonists, evil spirits
Related figures in other tribes: Atlantow (Mohican), Hobomok (Wampanoag), Okeus (Powhatan)

In Lenape mythology, Matanto is the manėtu (spirit) of death. He was portrayed as a destructive, often evil being usually in opposition to Ketanėtuwit. Matanto is associated with bats, stinging insects, and poisonous plants, all of which he is said to have created. After the introduction of Christianity, Lenape people frequently identified Mahtantu with the Devil.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Legends of the Delawares:
    Collection of Delaware Indian folktales including four in Lenape (with English translation.)
Mythology of the Lenape:
    An overview of the Lenape worldview and belief system including several legends and traditional stories.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Delaware and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 The Delaware Tribe: A History
 Lenape mythology
 Delaware words
 New Jersey Indians
 Eastern Woodland languages
 Algonkian tribes



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