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Legendary Native American Figures: Swamp Woman

Name: Swamp-Woman
Tribal affiliation: Abenaki, Penobscot, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy
Names in Native languages: Pskegdemus, P-Skig-Demo-Os, Mskagwdemos, Meskagkwedemos, M-ska-gwe-demoos, Maski-mon-gwe-zo-os, Sqewtomuhs, Skwakowtemus, Skwakewtemus, Skwakcwtemus, Squaw-oc-t'moos, Squeao-ta-mos
Pronunciation: puh-skeg-day-moose, muh-skog-day-moose, or skweh-tuh-moose
Type: Monster, ghost

In Wabanaki folklore, Swamp Woman is a female ghost that lives in the swamps and makes mournful cries. Anyone who tries to follow the sound of her crying will be lost in the swamp and killed. We do not know of any complete stories regarding Swamp Woman-- she was primarily a bogeyman to scare children away from straying into the swamp. By some tellings, Swamp Woman was more of a malevolent creature, intentionally luring children to their deaths out of spite or so that she could eat them. According to other people, Swamp Woman was a more tragic figure: the ghost of a childless woman who calls children to her out of genuine loneliness, only to have them die when her ghostly hands touch them. Either way, Swamp Woman is less of a mythological character than a parental reminder from the Wabanakis that it is never a good idea to play in the swamp, especially after dark.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Penobscot Tales and Religious Beliefs:
    Classic collection of Penobscot Indian stories about Pskegdemus the swamp woman and other legendary characters.
Giants of the Dawnland:
    Good book of Wabanaki Indian legends told by a Penobscot author.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of Native American stories, songs, and oral history from the Maliseet and other Algonquian tribes.
When the Chenoo Howls:
    Eerie collection of Native American ghost stories and monster tales.

Additional Resources

 Abenaki mythology
 Abenaki language
 Abenaki words
 Maliseet words
 Language spoken in Maine
 Northeast Woodlands
 Algonquian languages
 Native American horror stories



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