Legendary Native American Figures: Gici Niwaskw (Tabaldak)
Name: Gici Niwaskw Tribal affiliation:Abenaki, Penobscot,
Maliseet, Passamaquoddy Alternate spellings: Kichi Niwaskw, Kci Niwesq, Kechi Niwaskw, Ktchi Niwaskw, Kihci Niweskw, Ktsi Nwaskw, Kici Niwaskw, Kchi Niwaskw,
Kchiniwaskw, Ketchi Niwesk, Ketchiniwesk, Ktsi Nwaska, Gichi Niwasko, Kchi Niwaskwa, Ketchi Niwesku, Kci Niwesq, Ketci Niweskwe, Kehci-Niwesqit, K'chi Nixkam,
Kechi Niuasuk Pronunciation: gih-chee nih-wahsk-w (in Abenaki-Penobscot) or kih-chee nih-wehsk-w (in Maliseet-Passamaquoddy) Also known as: Tabaldak, Dabaldak, Tobaldak, Tabal-dak, Niwaskow˘gan, Keluwosit, Weli-Niwesqit, Woli-Niwesqit, Great Spirit, the Creator, First Manitou Type:High god,
Creator Related figures in other tribes:Kisulkw (Mi'kmaq),
Gitchie Manitou (Ojibway),
Gici Niwaskw is the great creator god of the southern Wabanaki tribes. The name literally means
Great Spirit, a common phrase used to address God
in many Native American cultures. The other names sometimes used to refer to Gici Niwaskw are equally lofty:
Tabaldak/Dabaldak means "Lord" in Abenaki-Penobscot, Niwaskow˘gan is another way of saying "Great Spirit" in
Abenaki, Weli-Niwesqit/Woli-Niwesqit means "Good Spirit" in Maliseet-Passamaquoddy, and Keluwosit means "one who is good."
As in other Algonquian tribes, the Great Spirit is abstract, benevolent, does not directly interact with humans,
and is rarely if ever personified in Wabanaki myths-- originally, Kci Niwesq did not even have a gender
(although with the introduction of
English and its gender-specific pronouns, Gici Niwaskw began to be referred to as "he.") It is
Gici Niwaskw who created the world, though
some details of making the world as we know it today were delegated to the culture hero
Glooskap. "Gici Niwaskw"
(or one of its many variant spellings)
was used as a translation for "God" in early translations of the Bible into Wabanaki languages,
and indeed most Wabanaki people today consider
the Great Spirit and the Christian God to be one and the same.