Native Languages of the Americas: Glooscap Stories and other Micmac Legends
This is our collection of Mi'kmaq folktales and traditional stories that can be read online.
We have indexed our Native American legends 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, so you may also want to visit our page comparing
the stories from the Wabanaki tribes (which
include the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet, Abenaki, Penobscot, and Micmac Indians), since the traditional stories of those
tribes are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Mi'kmaq 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 Mi'kmaq mythology.
Glooscap is the benevolent culture hero of the Micmac tribe, who taught the people the arts of civilization
and protected them from danger. Like other Micmac names, "Glooscap" has many spelling variants (Gluskabe, Kluskap, etc.)
The correct Micmac pronounciation is klue-skopp. Glooscap shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Anishinabe
Old-Man, and Cree
Wesakechak, and many of the same stories
are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.
This means "Creator" in the Micmac language, and is the Micmac name for God, who is sometimes also referred to as Kjikinap or Kji-Niskam.
Kisulkw is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is not personified in traditional Micmac folklore.
Pronounced similar to kih-soolk.
The Sun, who was the first being created by Kisúlkw and the one who carried out most divine plans.
Often personified as an old man in Micmac myths, and frequently referred to as Niskam ("grandfather.")
Nákúset is pronounced nah-goo-set, and Niskam is pronounced niss-kahm.
Glooscap's wise old grandmother. Pronounced noo-goo-mee.
Marten, Glooscap's adopted brother, helper, and right-hand animal. Pronounced ah-bist-ah-nayo-ch.
This name is sometimes given as belonging to an evil wolf who is Glooscap's twin brother. However, this is probably not an
original Micmac myth -- the character does not appear in older Micmac texts, "Malsum" is not a Micmac word, and the wolf
is not a malevolent figure in Micmac folklore. Perhaps Malsum may have been a confusion of a wolf character from Chippewa
folklore (who was the culture hero's brother, but not evil,) with the Wabanaki character Luks (see below.)
Turtle, Glooscap's bumbling uncle. Pronounced mick-cheech.
Glooscap's faithful companion, messenger, and tale-bringer. Pronounced kwee-moo.
Another animal spirit that serves Glooscap, by carrying him across the ocean. Pronounced boo-dup.
Luks (or Lox):
An evil spirit that seeks to destroy Glooscap. He is usually associated with the wolverine. His name rhymes with "dukes."
Rabbit and Otter, two light-hearted trickster figures from Mi'kmaq folktales who rob and play pranks on each other.
Like modern cartoon characters, they sometimes kill each other with their tricks and then randomly return to life.
Pronounced ah-blee-guh-mooch and cue-nick.
Bear, one of the most prominent animal spirits of Mi'kmaq mythology. He is portrayed as powerful and honorable but gullible.
Wildcat, an aggressive and dangerous animal in Mi'kmaq folklore. Sometimes he is conflated with Luks (see above.)
An epic hero in Mikmaq myths. The most famous stories in his hero cycle involve him winning a water-fairy wife and
then avenging her murder by evil wizards. Pronounced puh-lah-wetch.
Giant cannibal ice monsters, similar to the
Windigo of the
Anishinabe and other northern tribes. Chenoos were once human beings who either committed terrible crimes or became
possessed by evil spirits, causing their hearts to turn to ice. Pronounced cheh-noo.
A kind of man-eating ogre. They are greedy, hairy and have bear-like heads. Pronounced kook-wess.
These are little people like dwarves or fairies. They are generally benevolent forest spirits but can be dangerous if they are disrespected.
Pukulatmuj or Wiklatmu'j:
Another race of dwarves from Mi'kmaq legends. Pukulatmuj are rock spirits (sometimes called Stone Dwarves or Stone Indians in English)
who live in mountain caves. Pronounced poo-goo-lah-tuh-mooch or wih-guh-lah-tuh-mooch.
Another race of nature sprites, these are water spirits, and like European mermaids, they have human upper bodies and fish tails.
Pronounced sah-buh-wahn-ill-noo. They are sometimes also known as the Halfway People.
The ghost of an evil sorcerer, who returns to life by night to kill and devour humans.
A mortal hero gifted with uncanny physical strength and other powers. Pronounced kih-nopp.
An underwater horned serpent, said to lurk in lakes and eat humans. Pronounced chih-pitch-kawm.
Since it has only one horn according to most Mi'kmaq stories, it is sometimes called the Unicorn Serpent in English.
Mi'kmaq storm spirits, who cause thunder and lightning. Pronounced similar to kakh-too-kakh. They usually appear
as men with with bird's wings, and in some stories their clan intermarries with Indian people.
A legendary giant bird of prey, said to eat humans and be large enough to carry off a moose in its talons. Pronounced kuh-loo.
Heroine of a French-Wabanaki fusion myth loosely based on the Cinderella folktale. Pronounced woodge-ig-eesk-w.
The name of a giant magician in Micmac folklore, an enemy of Glooscap.