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Native American Legends: Skeleton Man (Masaw)
Name: Skeleton Man
Tribal affiliation: Hopi
Hopi name: Maasawu (Masau'u, Maasawi, Masawu, Maasaw, Masaaw, Masauwu, Masaw, Masao or Mosau'u), pronounced maw-sow-uh
Type: Lord of the Dead,
Skeleton Man is Lord of the Dead in Hopi mythology, but is often depicted as a benign and even
humorous figure. In the Hopi creation epic Skeleton Man is a culture hero who taught the Hopis
the arts of agriculture as well as warning them about the dangers of the world. In other legends, he
plays the role of a very earthy trickster who chases women
and makes bumbling mistakes. These funny and scandalous stories make Skeleton Man into a more
endearing, accessible figure.
Although his aspects can be terrifying, Skeleton Man is generally considered a great friend of
humanity who can be
trusted to take care of Hopi people in the afterlife.
Skeleton Man Stories
Másaw, the Caretaker:
Legend about the Hopi people's first encounter with Masaw (Skeleton Man.)
Stories of Maasaw, a Hopi God:
Good collection of Maasaw legends, put together by two Hopi authors.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
Compilation of more than a hundred Skeleton Man and other trickster stories from many different tribes.
Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.
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