Native Languages of the Americas: Massachusett/Wampanoag Indian Legends
This is our collection of links to Wampanoag 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. In particular, though these legends come from the Wampanoag, the traditional stories of
related tribes like the Mohegan and
Mohican tribes are very similar.
Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend a Wampanoag 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 Wampanoag mythology.
Kehtannit (also spelled
Kiehtan and other ways.) This means "Great Spirit" in the Wampanoag language,
and is the Wampanoag name for the Creator (God.) Kehtannit is a divine spirit with no human form or attributes
(including gender) and is never personified in Wampanoag folklore. The name is pronounced
similar to kay-tan-nit.
(also spelled Maushup, Maushop, and other ways.)
Moshup is a giant who is the culture hero of the Mohegan and Wampanoag tribes (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.)
His name is pronounced moh-shup or maw-shup, and he has a wife named
Moshup shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki
Kluscap and the
Nikommo (also spelled Nickommo):
Benevolent little people of the forest, in whose honor the Nikommo feasts are held.
Pukwudgie (also spelled Puckwudgie or other ways):
Another race of magical little people, but these are capricious and dangerous goblins, variously
harassing humans with either harmless pranks or serious assaults (particularly kidnapping and
sabotage.) Some Wampanoag storytellers even consider the pukwudgies to be responsible for
the death of Moshup or his sons.
(also spelled Hobomock or other ways):
The manito (spirit) of death. A destructive, often evil being usually in opposition to
Kautantowit. After the introduction of Christianity, Narragansett people
frequently identified Hobbomock with the Devil. He was also sometimes known as
Chepi or Chipi.
Only a few Wampanoag representations of horned serpents have survived, but they seem to have been substantially the same as in
other Algonquian tribes: giant snake-like water monsters with horns that lurked in lakes and rivers and ate people.
In the Wampanoag tribe, horned serpents were associated with Cheepi (Hobbomock), who would sometimes take the form of a
The Thunder Bird:
Few traditional Wampanoag stories about the Thunder Bird have survived. The creature was described as an eagle large enough to carry
off one of Moshup's children. Due to the lack of data, it is no longer clear whether these birds were Thunderbirds as in Anishinabe and Cree
mythology, or whether they were giant wind birds like those in Wabanaki folklore. Today, many northeastern storytelling traditions have
merged, and Wampanoag storytellers often tell Thunderbird stories from Ojibwe and other Algonquian sources.