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Legendary Native American Figures: Medawisla (Medawihla)

Name: Medawisla
Tribal affiliation: Abenaki, Penobscot
Alternate spellings: Mdawilha, Madawilha, Medawihla, Mathawila, Mdaweelh, M-da-weelh-ak
Pronunciation: muh-dah-wee-lah
Type: Loon
Related figures in other tribes: Kwemoo (Micmac)

In Wabanaki folklore, Medawisla the loon plays the role of messenger and loyal friend of the culture hero Gluskabe. Medawisla is something of a spy (always observing the people and reporting his findings to Gluskabe,) but since Gluskabe is such a benevolent figure, Medawisla is viewed positively nonetheless. The name Medawisla literally means "spirit bird" or "magic bird," because of his associations with Gluskabe. The loud, eerie cries of the loon were often said to be Medawisla's reports to Glooscap about the activities of men.

Medawisla Stories

How Glooscap Created Sugarloaf Mountain:
    Abenaki story in which the people use Medawisla to call Glooscap to their aid.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Giants of the Dawnland:
    A good collection of Wabanaki legends told by a Penobscot Indian author.
Seven Eyes, Seven Legs:
    Another good book of traditional myths and folktales, told and illustrated by an Abenaki author.
Native American Animal Stories:
    Engaging collection of American Indian tales about animals, told by Abenaki storyteller Joseph Bruchac.

Additional Resources

 Abenaki language
 Abenaki words
 New Hampshire language
 Woodland Native tribes
 Algonkian languages



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