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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.

Important Wampanoag Mythological Figures

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.

Moshup (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 Squannit. Moshup shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Wabanaki Kluscap and the Chippewa Manabozho.

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.

Hobbomock (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.

Horned Serpent: 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 horned serpent.

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.

Wampanoag Indian Folklore

*Moshup the Giant * Moshup * Maushop and the Circle of Life:
    Mohegan and Wampanoag stories about the giant hero Moshup.
*Squant, the Sea-Woman:
    Wampanoag myth about Moshup's wife Squant.
*A Mashpee Ghost Story:
    Mashpee Wampanoag story about a woman visited by a ghostly sailor.
*The Silver Pipe of the Massachusett:
    New England Indian legend about the medicine pipe of the Wampanoag sachem Massasoit.

Recommended Books on Wampanoag Mythology

Spirit of the New England Tribes:
    Collection of Narragansett, Mohegan, and Wampanoag legends and traditional stories.
The Legend Of Katama: The Creation Story Of Dolphins:
    Picture book of a Wampanoag legend from Martha's Vineyard.
Turtle Island: Tales of the Algonquian Nations:
    Anthology of legends from the Wampanoag and other Algonquian tribes.

Additional Resources

 Books of Native American legends
 Native American religions
 Wampanoag beliefs
 Massachusett words
 Indian tribes of Massachusetts
 East Woodland Indian tribes
 Algonkian people
 Wampanoag culture
 Native American Indian life



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