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Legendary Native American Figures: Wemategunis (Wood Dwarf)

Name: Wemategunis
Tribal affiliation: Lenape, Munsee
Alternate spellings: Wematekan'is, We'matekanis, Way-mah-tah-kun-eese, Wčmahtčkėnis, Wemahtekenis, Matekanis, Mate-kanis
Pronunciation: weh-mah-teh-guh-neese
Also known as: Manėtutėtak, Manetutetak, Wood Dwarves
Type: Little people, nature spirits
Related figures in other tribes: Mannegishi (Cree), Mikumwes (Wabanaki), Pukwudgie (Anishinabe)

Wemategunis are little people like sprites or dwarves, said to be about as tall as a man's waist. They are mischievous but generally benevolent forest spirits, though they can be dangerous if they are disrespected. Wemategunis have immense strength for their size, and in some folklore, they have magical powers such as the ability to become invisible. They may help people who are kind to them or tolerate their tricks with good humor. In some legends the Wematekan'is even serve as messengers of the Great Spirit.

Wemategunis Stories

*Wematekan'is and the Hunter:
    Lenape folktale about a Wematekan'is playing a prank on a hunter.
*Che-py-yah-poo-thwah:
    Lenape legend about a reckless gambler given a second chance by a Wemategunis.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Mythology of the Lenape:
    Book of Lenape legends and traditional stories including some about the Little People.
Legends of the Delawares:
    Collection of Delaware Indian folktales including four in Lenape (with English translation.)
The White Deer:
    Collection of Lenape and Munsee Delaware folktales.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Lenape and other Algonquian tribes.
The Deetkatoo:
    Traditional tales about little people from the Lenape and other Native American tribes.

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Additional Resources

 The Delaware Tribe: A History
 Lenape spirits
 Lenape words
 Lenape people
 New Jersey languages
 Eastern Woodlands culture region
 Algonquian languages



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