Native Languages of the Americas: Glooskap Stories and other Passamaquoddy Legends
This is our collection of Passamaquoddy 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 Micmac, Maliseet, Abenaki, Penobscot, and Passamaquoddy Indians), since the traditional stories of those
tribes are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Passamaquoddy 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 Passamaquoddy mythology.
Glooskap is the benevolent culture hero of Passamaquoddy folklore, who taught the people the arts of civilization
and protected them from danger. Like other Passamaquoddy names, "Glooskap" has many spelling variants (Gluskabe, Kluskap, etc.)
The correct Passamaquoddy pronounciation is klue-skopp. Glooskap shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Anishinabe
Old-Man, and Cree
Wisakedjak, and many of the same stories
are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.
This means "Great Spirit" in the Passamaquoddy language, and is the Passamaquoddy name for the Creator (God).
Kci Niwesq is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender) and is never personified in Passamaquoddy folklore.
Pronounced kih-chee nih-wehsk-w.
This name, which simply means "wolf," is sometimes said to belong to an evil wolf who is Glooskap's twin brother. However, this is probably not an
original Passamaquoddy myth -- the character does not appear in older Passamaquoddy texts, and the wolf
is not a malevolent figure in Passamaquoddy folktales. Early folklorists may have confused Passamaquoddy stories with
those from Iroquois and Anishinabe tribes.
In any case, "Malsom" is pronounced mawl-sum in Maliseet.
Grandmother Woodchuck (Nuhkomoss Munimqehs):
Glooskap's wise old grandmother, who raised him. Pronounced noo-kuh-muss moo-nim-kwass in Passamaquoddy.
Glooskap's faithful companion, messenger, and tale-bringer. Pronounced kwee-moo.
Another animal spirit that serves Glooskap, by carrying him across the ocean. Pronounced boo-dup.
Laks (or Lox):
Wolverine, a malevolent Passamaquoddy animal spirit, sometimes called the "Indian Devil." Sounds like "locks."
A light-hearted Maliseet trickster figure who is constantly playing tricks and deceiving other animals. Pronounced mah-tuh-gwass.
Squirrel, a Passamaquoddy troublemaker character. Pronounced mee-koo.
Bear, one of the most prominent animal spirits of Passamaquoddy folklore. He is powerful and honorable but gullible.
Wildcat, an aggressive and dangerous animal in Passamaquoddy folklore. Sometimes he is conflated with Laks (see above.)
Kewahqu: Giant man-eating 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 an evil spirit, causing their hearts to turn to ice.
The name "Chenoo" comes from the neighboring Micmac tribe and is pronounced cheh-noo. "Kewahqu"
is the Passamaquoddy name of this creature, which is pronounced keh-wah-kwoo.
There are several different groups of little people in Maliseet and Passamaquoddy folklore:
Mihkomuwehs is a forest gnome,
Wonakomehs is a sort of river dwarf who lives
among the rocky riverbanks,
Lampeqin is a water sprite or mermaid,
and Nagumwas is an ugly fairy that lives near
Passamaquoddy settlements and brings good luck to humans.
All of them can be dangerous if they are disrespected, but are generally benevolent nature spirits.
Their names are pronounced mee-kuh-moo-wess, wuh-nah-guh-mess, lahm-beh-gwin, and nah-gum-wah-suck, respectively.
The name of a Passamaquoddy mermaid in some 19th-century folktales. Probably it was the same creature as
lampeqin (above)-- "niwesq" just means "spirit" in Passamaquoddy and can refer to any kind of supernatural creature.
A notorious witch. Her Passamaquoddy name literally means Jug Woman and is pronounced book-cheen-squass.
She is also sometimes known as Tree-Stump Woman or Toad Woman.
Hero of the Fisher or Black Cat cycle of myths, it was Pogumk who finally defeated the witch Pukcinsquehs. Folklorists sometimes
identify Pogumk as an alter ego of Glooskap, but Wabanaki elders have maintained that they are two different heroes. Pronounced poh-gomk.
Skwakowtemus (Swamp Woman):
A female ghost that lives in the swamps and makes mournful cries.
Anyone who tries to follow the sound of her crying is lost in the swamp. Pronounced skweah-goh-tuh-moose.
An underwater horned serpent, said to lurk in lakes and eat humans.
Its name means Great Serpent and is pronounced kih-chee ott-hoo-suss.
A giant fanged sea serpent that drags people, especially incautious children, into the water and eats them.
Pronounced similar to ah-boo-dahm-kun.
The Thunderers, a group of supernatural winged warriors who cause thunder and lightning. Pronounced peh-dah-gee-yick.
Another sea monster, said to resemble a giant slug or alligator. Pronounced wee-will-uh-meck.
A giant bird of prey, said to eat humans and be large enough to carry a child off in its talons. Pronounced kuh-loo.
Bird spirit known as the "Spirit of the Night Air," used in stories to scare children into obeying their
parents. It has an unearthly cry and resembles a large diving owl, with only its head and talons visible.
A malevolent undead monster created
by the death of an evil sorcerer, which returns to life by night to kill and devour humans.
A legendary mountaintop bird whose wings cause the wind. Pronounced wuh-chow-sun.
An invisible forest spirit responsible for the felling of trees. Pronounced ah-too-wuss-kuh-nee-gass.
A giant lake monster that caused drought, who was defeated by Glooskap and turned into a bullfrog. Pronounced ah-gluh-beh-moo.