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Legendary Native American Figures: Oochigeas (Oochigeaskw)

Name: Oochigeas
Tribal affiliation: Mi'kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy
Alternate spellings: Oochigeaskw, Oochigea'skw, Oochigeaska
Pronunciation: probably wudge-ig-eesk
Also known as: Rough-Faced Girl, Little Scarface
Type: Heroine

Oochigeas is the heroine of a 19th-century Mi'kmaq and Maliseet fairy tale which is a fusion between the French "Cinderella" story and Wabanaki folktales. This is a more modern story, not a traditional one, and so none of our Mi'kmaq or Maliseet speakers knew what the native name of the heroine originally was, but they guess that perhaps it was Wijikiskw, which is pronounced wudge-ih-geesk and means "scabby woman" or "scarred woman" in Mi'kmaq. There are a number of versions of this story but in most of them the plot is similar to the "Cinderella" story: Oochigeas is neglected by her father and tormented by her sisters, but in the end is chosen over her sisters by the "prince" (in this case an invisible medicine person named Team, possibly even the culture hero Glooskap himself in disguise) and becomes his wife. As is typical of Wabanaki folktales, Oochigeas must pass several tests of her character in order to achieve her objective, demonstrating her courage, honesty, and respect.

Oochigeas Stories

*Oochigeas and the Invisible One * The Hidden One * Invisible One and the Rough-Faced Girl:
    The Mi'kmaq story of Oochigeaskw (Burnt-Face Girl).
*The Legend of Oochigeas and the Invisible Boy:
    A Maliseet version of the Oochigeas legend.
*Mi'kmaq Cinderella Interpretation:
    An interesting analysis of the Little Burnt One story by an Anishinabe author.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

The Rough-Face Girl:
    Beautiful picture book illustrating the story of Oochigeas and the Invisible Being.
On the Trail of Elder Brother:
    Good book of traditional stories told by a Mi'kmaq author and illustrator.
Giants of the Dawnland:
    Another good collection of Wabanaki legends, told by a Penobscot Indian author.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Mi'kmaq and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 We Were Not the Savages
 Mi'kmaq myths
 Mikmaq words
 Maliseet words
 Nova Scotia nations
 The Eastern Woodlands

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