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Native Languages of the Americas:
Michif/Metis Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our collection of links to Metis 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 Metis, the traditional stories of related tribes like the Crees and Chippewas share many similarities.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Metis legend for this page or think one of the ones on here should be removed, please let us know.

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Important Metis Mythological Figures

Since the Metis are primarily of mixed French, Cree and Ojibway origins, it is not surprising that their folklore contains many traditional stories and mythological figures from all three of these traditions. Here are some common characters from Metis stories:

Nenabush, Wisakechak or Ti-Jean. These are benevolent trickster/transformer figures that have largely merged together in traditional Metis folktales. Nenabush is the Michif pronunciation of the Ojibway hero Nanabozho and is the most common name given to the Metis hero; Wisakechak is a traditional Cree trickster; and Ti-Jean is a Michif pronunciation of the French Canadian folk hero Petit Jean ("Little John.") Although the original Petit Jean is quite different in character from the two Algonquian heroes Nanabozho and Wisakechak, Metis storytellers tend to use the three characters interchangeably, and the same story can be heard ascribed to any of these three trickster figures. Nenabush is pronounced similar to nay-nah-boosh, Wisakechak is pronounced similar to wee-sah-kay-chock (and is often called "Whiskey-Jack" by English speaking Metis people), and Ti-Jean is pronounced tee-zhawn.

Rugaru (also spelled Rougarou and other ways.) This is a Michif pronunciation of the French phrase "loup garou," werewolf. Some Metis stories about Rugaru come from French werewolf legends, some are adaptations of Algonquian Wendigo/Witiko legends about man-eating ice monsters, and some are combinations of the two. In most Rugaru stories a Metis person is turned into a Rugaru by catching sight of another Rugaru, not being bitten by one (as in French werewolf legends) or committing sins of cannibalism or greed (as in Algonquian Windigo legends.)

Ma-ma-kwa-se-sak (also spelled May-may-quay-so-wuk and other ways.) These are small river-dwelling water spirits (or "little people") which come from Cree folklore. Ma-ma-kwa-se-sak live in the wilderness beneath rocks; they are usually invisible, and catching sight of one is a good omen. According to Metis myths, the Little People are prone to stealing things and causing mischief but are generally benign creatures who may come to the aid of a person who needs it. Some Metis people would leave candy and sugar as gifts for them. Their name is pronounced similar to may-may-gway-see-wock.

Metis Folklore

*Métis Storytelling:
    A Michif legend about how the people hunted the moose.
*Michif Stories and Legends:
    Michif myths, oral history, and cultural background from a Metis heritage organization.
*Metis Story telling:
    Metis stories presented by the Aboriginal Youth Network.
    Metis folktales about the adventures of a dwarf hero.

Recommended Books on Metis Folklore
Our organization earns a commission from any book bought through these links

Stories of the Road Allowance People:
    A good collection of traditional Metis mythology and folktales.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred stories about Whiskey-Jack and other Native American tricksters.
    (Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.)

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Additional Resources

 Métis Spiritualism
 Metis people
 Michif words
 American Indian folklore
 American Indian belief
 Canadian indigenous people
 Algonquian language family
 Different Native American tribes

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