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Native Languages of the Americas:
Menominee Legends, Myths, and Stories

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 let us know.

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Important Menominee Mythological Figures

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 Anishinabe and Menominee mythology (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 Gluscabi, Blackfoot 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.

Moqwaio: 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.

Anamaqkiu: Underworld spirits of Menominee Indian myth. 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.

Thunder-Bird (Enaemaehkiw): 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.

Mimakwisiwuk: 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.

Menominee Indian Folklore

*Manabush Stories and other Menominee Legends:
    Collection of traditional Menominee tales from Wisconsin.
*Manabozho's Birth * Manabozho's Wolf Brother:
    Menominee legends about Manabush's birth and childhood.
*How The Porcupine Got His Quills:
    Menominee myth about the pride of Porcupine.
*The Legend of Rabbit and Owl:
    Menominee folktale about the origin of day and night.
*Manabozho Plays Lacrosse:
    Legend of a battle between Manabush and the spirits of the underworld.
*Mashenomak, The Fish Monster:
    The Menomini story of how Manabush slew a man-eating sea monster.
*The Deceived Blind Men:
    How Raccoon tricked two blind old men.
*The Sun Snarer:
    Menominee legend about a boy who trapped the sun.
*The Trickster's Great Fall and His Revenge:
    Menominee story about a quarrel between Manabozho and Buzzard.
*Manabush and the Reed Dancers * Manabush and the Tree Holders:
    Menominee Indian myths about a humorous mistake of Manabozho's.
*The Shut-Eye Dance:
    Menominee story about Manabush tricking the ducks.
*Menominee Tales:
    Menominee myth about the origin of the name Chicago.
    (This makes more sense if you know that "skunk" and "onion" come from the same word in Menominee!)
*Nanabozho and the Indian Story of the Creation:
    Role of the demigod Manabush in several tribal traditions including the Menominee.
*Manabozho's Adventures:
    Several stories from the Menominee and Ojibwa tribes.
Brother Bear:
    Menominee story about a lost man who took shelter with a bear.
How the Flower Came to Be:
    Menominee legend about the origin of flowers.
*The Legend of Spirit Rock:
    Menominee legend about a man who asked for too much and was turned into a rock.

Recommended Books on Menominee Mythology

Menominee And Chippeway Indian Legends And Myths:
    Collection of Chippewa and Menominee stories.
Legends and Tales of She-She-Pe-Ko-Now:
    Folklore from the Menominee and other Wisconsin Indian tribes.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Menominee and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Menominee and Ojibwa religion
 Menominee religion and expressive traditions
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American religions
 Wisconsin Indian tribes
 Northeast Woodland tribes
 Algonquian Indians
 Menominee culture
 American Indians websites



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