Native American Indian languages
American Indian cultures
Native American Legends: Memegwesi (Mannegishi)
Tribal affiliation: Ojibway,
Alternate spellings: Memengwesi, Memegweshi, Memegwesě, Memekwesiw, Memegawansi,
Omemengweshii, Maymaygwayshi, Memekwesi, Memekwesiw, Memekwisiw,
Memegwecio, Memegwicio, Mannegeshi, Mannegishi, Memekueshu, Mimakwisi, Mamagwasi,
Mamakwasew, Memegawensi, Maymaygwayshi, Memengweshii, Mee'megwee'ssi, Memogouissiouis,
Mimikwisi, Mimikwisiw, Mîmîkwîsi, Memegwe'ju, Mee'megwee'ssio, Memegwe'djo,
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, Mîmîkwîsiwak, 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,
Related figures in other tribes: Wanagemeswak (Passamaquoddy),
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
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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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