Native American Indian languages
American Indian cultures
Legendary Native American Figures: Memegwesi (Mannegishi)
Tribal affiliation: Ojibway, Algonquin, Ottawa, Cree, Metis, Innu, Menominee
Alternate spellings: Memengwesi, Memegweshi, Memegwesž, Memekwesiw, Memegawansi, Omemengweshii, Maymaygwayshi, Memekwesi,
Memegwecio, Memegwicio, Mannegeshi, Mannegishi, Memekueshu, Mimakwisi, Mamagwasi,
Mamakwasew, Memegawensi, Maymaygwayshi,
Memengweshii, Mee'megwee'ssi, Memogouissiouis, Mimikwisi, Mimikwisiw, MÓmÓkwÓsi, Memegwe'ju, Mee'megwee'ssio,
Memegwe'djo, Memekwe'zu, Memegwedjo
Pronunciation: Varies by dialect: may-may-gway-see, may-mane-gway-see, or uh-may-mane-gway-shee
Also known as: Memegwesiwag is the plural form of their name, also spelled Memegwesiwak, Memengweswag,
Mamagwasewug, Memekwesiwak, Maymaygwaysiwuk, Mimakwisiwuk, Mimikwisiwak, MÓmÓkwÓsiwak, Meymeykweysiwak,
May-may-quay-she-wuk, May-may-quay-so-wuk, or Ma-ma-kwa-se-sak.
Sometimes also known as Apa'iins, Pai'iins, or Pa'iins, which literally means "little people."
Type: Little people, river spirits
Related figures in other tribes: Wanagemeswak (Passamaquoddy), Wiklatmu'j (Micmac), Mikumwes (Wabanaki), Makiawisug (Mohegan)
Memegwesi are small riverbank-dwelling water spirits. They are generally benign creatures, but sometimes blow canoes astray
or steal things when they are not shown proper respect. In some Ojibwe traditions, Memegwesi can only be seen by children and
medicine people; in others, they can appear to anyone, and may help humans who give them tobacco and other gifts. Most often
Memegwesi are described as being child-sized and hairy with a large head and a strange voice that sounds like the whine of a
dragonfly. The Cree and Innu describe them as having narrow faces, and some Menominee storytellers have said that they have no noses.
It is sometimes said that Memegwesi were originally created from the bark of trees.
Memegwesi are said to carve symbols on rocks and sometimes carve small canoes for themselves out of stone.
Some people believe that their name comes from the Ojibwe word for "hairy," memii, since Memegwesi are usually described as having hairy
faces and bodies. Other people believe that their name is related to the word for butterfly, memengwaa.
Algonquin Indian legends about the Memegwesiwag.
Encyclopedia article about the Mannegishi of Cree folklore.
Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
A good collection of traditional folktales told by an Ojibway author.
The Mishomis Book: Voice of the Ojibway:
Excellent book by a Native author exploring Ojibway legends and traditions.
Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Ojibwe and other Algonquian tribes.
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