Native Languages of the Americas: Manabush Stories and other Menominee Legends
This is our collection of links to Menominee folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our Native American folktales section
by tribe to make them easier to locate; however, variants on the same
legend are often told by American Indians from different tribes, especially if those tribes are kinfolk or neighbors to
each other. In particular, though these legends come from the Menominee tribe, the traditional stories of
related tribes like the
Ojibwe and Cree are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Menominee legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please contact us and let us know.
Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Menominee mythology.
Manabush (also spelled Manabus, Manibush, Manabozho, Manibozho, Manabusch, Menabosho, Nanabush,
and several other ways.) Manabush is the benevolent culture hero of the Menominee and Anishinaabe tribes (sometimes referred to as a "transformer"
by folklorists.) The pronunciation of this name varies widely but is most commonly muh-nuh-boosh or muh-nuh-boo-zhoo.
He is associated with rabbits and sometimes appears in the form of a rabbit in Menominee traditions,
for which reason he is sometimes known as Michabo (the Great Hare) or Michabo Ovisaketchak (Great Hare who created the earth.)
Manabush shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki
Napi, and Cree
Whiskey-Jack, and many of the same stories
are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.
Maeci-Manetow or Maec-Awaetok
(also spelled Mese Manido, Kishä' Ma'nido, and several other ways.)
These names mean "Great Spirit" in the Menominee language, and are Menominee names for the Creator (God.) Maeci-Manetow
is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in Menominee folklore. The name is pronounced
similar to mats-ih muh-nih-doh or mats-ah-watt-ok.
Nokomis (also spelled Nohkomaeh or Nokoma):
Manabush's wise old grandmother, who raised him. Pronounced noh-kuh-miss or no-kuh-meah.
Manabush's brother, the Wolf. In some legends Moqwaio was the actual twin brother of Manabush,
who died in infancy and was resurrected as a wolf; in others, he was originally a wolf who Manabush
adopted as a brother. He is also sometimes known as Na'qpote, the Great Hunter.
After his death, Moqwaio became the ruler of the land of the dead.
Underworld spirits of Menominee mythology.
The Anamaqkiu were enemies of Manabush and in most tellings were the ones responsible
for killing his brother the wolf.
Underground Panther (Maeci-Pesew):
A powerful mythological creature something like a cross between a cougar and a dragon, which lives at the bottom of lakes and causes
people to drown. The Underground Panther is a dangerous monster and the Menominees feared it, but also respected it as one of
the most important nature spirits and made offerings to it.
Another powerful mythological being, associated with the sky realm. Thunder is caused by the beating of their enormous wings,
and they can shoot lightning from their eyes. Although thunder-birds are very powerful beings, they rarely bother humans,
and were treated with reverence by Menominee people.
Magical little people of the wilderness, said to make carvings in the rocks. They are mischievous and sometimes play tricks
but are not dangerous if they are treated respectfully. Their name is pronounced similar to mih-mah-kwih-sih-wuk.
Maeci-Kenupik (also spelled Meqsekenaepik, Meshe-Kinebik, etc):
An underwater horned serpent, common to the legends of most Algonquian tribes, which is said to lurk in lakes and eat humans. Its name literally
means Great Serpent, and is pronounced similar to mats-ih-kih-nuh-bick.
Maeci-Namaeq (also spelled Mashe-namak, etc):
Another water monster, sometimes known as Big Sturgeon in English.
Its name literally means Great Fish, and is pronounced similar to mats-ih-nah-mack.