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Native Languages of the Americas:
Gluskap Stories and other Wabanaki Legends
This is our collection of links to Wabanaki 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. On this page, we have included myths and legends from the five tribes of the Wabanaki Confederacy:
the Abenaki Tribe,
Maliseet Tribe, and
These five related tribes of northeast New England and the Canadian Maritimes speak similar languages
and share many cultural similarities, including much of their folklore.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Wabanaki legend for this page or think one of the ones on here
should be removed, please let us know.
Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Wabanaki mythology.
Gluskabi is the benevolent culture hero of the Wabanaki tribes, who taught the people the arts of civilization
and protected them from danger. Like other Wabanaki names, "Gluskabi" has many spelling variants (Glooscap, Koluskap, etc.)
The correct pronunciation in Abenaki and Penobscot is similar to glue-skaw-buh, and in Mi'kmaq,
Maliseet, and Passamaquoddy it sounds more like klue-skopp (but with very soft k and p sounds.)
Gluskabi shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Anishinabe
Old Man, and Cree
Whiskey-Jack, and many of the same stories
are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.
The Creator or Great Spirit:
These are English translations of the names for God in the various Wabanaki languages (Dabaldak or Gici Niwaskw in Abenaki-Penobscot,
Keluwosit or Kci Niwesq in Maliseet-Passamaquoddy, and Kisúlkw in Mi'kmaq.)
In Wabanaki traditions, the Creator/Great Spirit is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes (including gender), and is almost never personified in
Nokomes (or Nokemes, Nukumi, etc.):
Gluskabi's wise old grandmother (her name, pronounced no-kuh-muss, noo-guh-muss, or noo-goo-mee, simply means "grandmother" in the Wabanaki languages.)
In the Abenaki, Penobscot, Passamaquoddy, and Maliseet tribes, Nokomes is often associated with a woodchuck (and sometimes called Grandmother
Woodchuck.) In the Mi'kmaq tribe she is a more abstract elder figure who was created specifically to be Gluskap's grandmother.
Many Wabanaki folktales feature clever animal heroes playing tricks on each other or on Wabanaki people. Usually these are lighter, less sacred stories,
and like modern cartoon animals, the tricksters sometimes die and spontaneously come back to life. Raccoon, Rabbit, and Otter are the most common
Wabanaki trickster characters.
Lox (or Loks, Luks, etc.):
Wolverine, a malevolent figure in Mi'kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy folklore. Sometimes he merely models uncivilized behavior, such as gluttony,
rudeness, and sexual impropriety. Other times he plays the role of a dangerous and violent villain who may kill incautious people.
Malsum: This name,
which simply means "wolf" in Abenaki, is sometimes said to belong to an evil wolf who is Gluskabi's twin brother. However, this may not
be a genuine Wabanaki myth: the name does not appear in older texts,
wolves do not play a malevolent role in any other Wabanaki legend, and some Abenaki and Mi'kmaq
elders have stated that this story has foreign origins. Perhaps it may have been a corrupted form of a
Great Lakes Algonquian story (their culture hero, Nanabozho, does have a wolf brother, though still
not an evil one,) or a fusion of such a story with native Wabanaki stories about the evil
wolverine Lox (see above.) Whatever its origins, some modern Wabanaki storytellers do tell tales about
the character today (though Micmacs often say that it came from the
Abenakis, and Abenakis that it came from the Micmacs or Maliseets!)
The first woman, created by Gluskabi and/or the Creator. Details about her life vary greatly from telling to telling, but the constant is that
she ultimately sacrifices herself to bring corn to the people.
Wabanaki folklore includes many horror stories
about man-eating monstrous ice giants (most commonly known as Chenoo in Mi'kmaq, Maliseet and Passamaquoddy, and Giwakwa
in Abenaki and Penobscot.) They are similar to the Windigo of the
northern Algonquian tribes. In most stories, the Giwakwa/Chenoo was once a human being who either committed a terrible crime or became
possessed by an evil spirit, causing his heart to turn to ice.
Little People (Mikumwesuk, Wunagmeswook, Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg, etc):
Known by a variety of names, the Little People of the Wabanaki tribes can be dangerous if they are disrespected but are generally
benevolent nature spirits.
Horned Serpent (Kitchi-Athusis, Chipitchkam, Gita-skog):
An underwater horned serpent, said to lurk in lakes and eat humans. Its name means "Great Serpent" in the three languages of the Wabanaki
Thunders (or Thunderers):
A group of supernatural winged warriors who shoot lightning from their eyes and cause peals
of thunder when they fight.
A legendary giant bird of prey, said to eat humans and be large enough to carry a child off in its talons. Pronounced kuh-loo.
A snow bird spirit that lived on Mt Katahdin and made cold weather. Pronounced buh-moh-lah.
Another mountain bird spirit, whose wings make the wind. Pronounced wuh-dzo-sen.
Gluskabe Gluskab Gluskabe:
Introductions to the Wabanaki demigod Gluskabe.
Malecite and Passamaquoddy Tales:
Collection of myths and folktales told by Wabanaki storytellers of Maine.
Koluskap: Stories from Wolastoqiyik:
Nineteen Maliseet stories.
Mi'kmaq and Maliseet Storytelling:
Discussion of the native storytelling style, and a funny story about Eniqs the ant.
Abenaki Emergence Myth Micmac Creation Myth Gluskonba Makes the People The Strange Origin of Corn
Corn Mother First Mother, First Father First Mother Saves the Penobscot First People and the First Corn:
Wabanaki creation myths and the origin of corn.
Glooscap and the Water Monster Koluscap and the Giant Skunk Koluskap and the Giant Beaver Passamaquoddy Allegory:
Sugarloaf Mountain Gluskabe and the Monster Frog:
Glooskap protects the Wabanakis by turning monsters into animals.
Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle Why We Need Wind The Bird whose Wings Made the Wind:
Gluskabe decides to stop the wind from blowing, and learns a lesson about the world.
Glooskap and Mikchich The Changing of Mikcheech Turtle Marries the Chief's Daughter:
The adventures of Glooskap and his uncle the Turtle.
Glouscap and the Baby Gluskabe and Dzeedzeez:
Gluskabe is outmatched by a baby. (Wasis means "baby" in Passamaquoddy, and Dzeedzees means "baby" in Abenaki.)
Gluskonba and the Four Wishes: The First Pine Trees Glooskap and the Fearful Warrior Three Wishes:
Gluskabe grants wishes to Wabanaki men, but not all their wishes turn out as they imagined.
How Gluskabe Stole Tobacco:
Grasshopper tries to keep the gift of tobacco for himself, but is outwitted by Gluskabe.
How Glooscap Found Summer: How Glooskap Found The Summer:
The origin of the seasons.
How Rabbit Got Long Ears:
Rabbit plays a trick on the other animals, but he can't fool Glooscap.
How Rabbit lost his tail.
The Lazy Rabbit Rabbit and Otter Rabbit Calls a Truce:
Wabanaki stories about rivals Rabbit and Otter.
Azban the Raccoon:
Azban loses a shouting match with a waterfall.
Geow-lud-mo-sis-eg The Puglutmu’j:
Tales of the Wabenaki "little people."
Mooin, the Bear's Child:
Micmac legend of a boy adopted by a bear.
Oochigeas and Invisible Boy Mi'kmaq Indian Cinderella The Hidden One Mi'kmaq Cinderella Interpretation:
Micmac and Maliseet versions of the French 'Cinderella' story.
Wolverine and Bear:
Micmac-Maliseet legend about Wolverine misusing his magical powers.
The Owl Husband:
Legend of a Passamaquoddy girl who married the great horned owl.
The Flying Canoe:
Passamaquoddy folktale about three competitive brothers.
Mi'kmaq Women Who Married Star Husbands:
Mi'kmaq legend about two weasel women who marry the stars.
Folktale about a loyal Passamaquoddy girl.
The Girl Chenoo The Girl and the Chenoo:
Wabanaki legends about cannibal monsters.
The Origin of the Thunderbird On the Trail of the Thunderbird:
Wabanaki legends about the Thunderbird.
Reach of the Horned Serpent:
The legend of Weewillmekq/Jipijka'm, the Wabanaki horned serpent.
The Giant and the Four Wind Brothers:
Folktale about the adventures of a Penobscot giant.
Legend of the Bear Family:
Origin of the Penobscot Bear Clan.
Legend of a Penobscot girl who bore a medicine child.
Raccoon Learns A Lesson:
Raccoon plays a trick on two blind men. In English and Mi'kmaq.
Pamola, A Penobscot Legend:
Penobscot story about a woman who married the bird spirit of Mount Katahdin.
Nukumi and Fire:
The origin of Glooscap's grandmother.
The Creator Visits:
The Creator rewards a family's generosity.
Indian Summer Nibubalnoba, the Indian Summer:
Legends about the origins of "Indian summer," the brief recurrence of summer-like weather before the snows fall.
Glooscap Turns Bad Into Good:
Glooscap creates landmarks on the St. John River.
Weewilmekq and Kitchi-at'Husis:
A fight between two Wabanaki water monsters.
On the Trail of Elder Brother:
Excellent collection of traditional Koluscap stories told by a Mi'kmaq author.
Seven Eyes, Seven Legs: Supernatural Stories of the Abenaki:
A good coffee-table book of myths and folktales told and illustrated by an Abenaki artist.
Giants of the Dawnland:
Another great collection of Wabanaki legends told by a Penobscot Indian author.
Raccoon's Last Race: Gluskabe and the Four Wishes:
Children's picture books illustrating Abenaki legends, by acclaimed Native storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Thanks To The Animals:
Charming picture book telling a Passamaquoddy story about a lost child protected by the animals of the forest.
The Rough-Faced Girl:
Picture book based on the Mi'kmaq-Maliseet Cinderella story.
Echoes of the Night: Gluskap Stories:
Audio recordings of Wabanaki storytelling.
Rich anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Wabanaki and other Algonquian tribes.
Spirituality in Indian culture
Indian tribes of New Brunswick
Eastern Woodlands tribes
List of American Indian tribes by state
Back to our Wabanaki Confederacy homepage
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