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Legendary Native American Figures: Mesingw (Mising)

Name: Mesingw
Tribal affiliation: Lenape, Munsee, Shawnee (some communities)
Alternate spellings: Misingw, Msingw, Mėsingw, Msiingw, Mising, Mesing, Mee Sing, Misink, Mesingwe, Msingwe, Misingwa, Masing, Mesingk, Messingq, Misi'ngwe, Mesingwe, Mizi'nk, Misink, Misignwa
Pronunciation: similar to muh-seeng but with a rounded final consonant.
Also known as: Mask Spirit, Masked Being, Spirit Face, Living Solid Face, Master of Game. Mesingholikan (also spelled Mėsingholikan, Misinkhalikan, Misinghalikun, Misinkhālikąn, Misinghali'kun, Mizinkhali'kun, Wsinkhoalican, and other ways) was the name of a Lenape ritual dancer who channeled the role of Mesingw for hunting and curing ceremonies.
Type: Mask, dream spirit, hunting god

Mesingw is the Lenape Mask Spirit, a powerful, sacred medicine spirit who maintains the balance of nature, appears to Lenape men in dreams, and is the focus of certain traditional Lenape religious rituals. Some people (especially non-Natives) have begun associating Mesingw with Bigfoot recently, but this is not a traditional view-- many Native American tribes do indeed have sasquatch/hairy man legends but the Lenape Mask Spirit is not one of them. Mising is usually depicted as a supernatural face with one half colored red and the other half colored black. Mising is the protector of all animals of the forest, but is most strongly associated with deer. Some Lenape people describe Mising as taking humanoid form and riding through the woods on the back of a deer, helping respectful hunters and punishing those who despoil the forest.

Mesingw Stories

*The Meesink Story:
    Lenape legend about Meesink arguing with Kishelemukonk about the creation of humans.
*Origin of the Big House Ceremonies:
    Myth about the Msiingw vision that began the Delaware Big House tradition.
*The Masked Being:
    Lenape legends about Mising.
*Shawnee Mythology:
    Article on Shawnee traditions including the adoption of the Misingw spirit into Shawnee ceremonies.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Legends of the Delawares:
    Collection of Delaware Indian folktales including four in Lenape (with English translation.)
Mythology of the Lenape:
    An overview of the Lenape worldview and belief system including several legends and traditional stories.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Delaware and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 The Delaware Tribe: A History
 Lenape mythology
 Lenape words
 New Jersey Indian tribes
 East Woodlands languages
 Algonquian tribes



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