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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), Kishelemukong (Lenape)

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.

Gici Niwaskw Stories

*Abenaki Creation Story:
    Stories about Gici Niwaskw's creation of the world.
*Kloskurbeh and the Great Spirit:
    Abenaki story about Kci Niwesq and the creation of humankind.
*The Gift of Tobacco:
    Abenaki myth in which Gluskabe teaches the people to share tobacco as Tabaldak intended.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Giants of the Dawnland:
    Good collection of Wabanaki Indian legends told by a Penobscot author.
Seven Eyes, Seven Legs:
    Another good book of myths and folktales, told and illustrated by an Abenaki author.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Maliseet and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Voice of the Dawn
 Abenaki mythology
 Abenaki language
 Abenaki words
 Maliseet words
 Maine Algonquin
 Woodland Native Americans cultures
 The Algonquians



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