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Legendary Native American Figures: Wisaka (Wizaka)

Name: Wisaka
Tribal affiliation: Kickapoo, Sac and Fox, Potawatomi
Alternate spellings: Wisake, Wiza'ka'a, Wiske, Wieska, Wizaka, Wizakaa, Wisakaa, Wisahkeha, Wisakeha, Wizakeha, Wisaaka, Wi'saka, Wisakatchekwa, Wiskatchekwa, Wisakachakwa, Wesokochauqua, Wisakatchakwa, We-sah-kah
Pronunciation: Varies by dialect: usually wee-zah-kah, wee-zah-keh-hah, or wee-skeh
Type: Culture hero, Transformer, trickster
Related figures in other tribes: Wesakechak (Cree), Nanabojo (Anishinabe), Glooscap (Wabanaki), Napi (Blackfoot)

Wisaka is the benevolent culture hero of the prairie Algonquian tribes (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.) His name is spelled so many different ways partially because these tribes speak several different languages, and partially because they were originally unwritten (so English speakers just spelled it however it sounded to them at the time). Wisaka is a trickster character whose adventures are often humorous. Unlike Plains Indian tricksters, Wisaka is usually portrayed as a good friend of humankind, not a dangerous or destructive being.

The details of Wisaka's life vary somewhat from community to community. Most often he is said to have been directly created by the Great Spirit. (Some Kickapoo communities in Mexico identify Wisaka as the son of the Great Spirit, though this may be an influence from Christianity.) In other traditions, Wisaka is born of a virgin mother and raised by his Grandmother Earth. In some stories Wisaka is said to have created the first humans out of mud, while in others, the Great Spirit created people modelled on Wisaka, who then became their Elder Brother. In many tribal traditions, Wisaka has a younger brother named Chibiabos or Yapata, who was killed by water spirits and became the ruler of the dead.

Wisaka Stories

*Wiza'ka'a and the Buzzard:
    Kickapoo legend about the time Wizaka fell from the sky.
Wisake and the Buzzard:
    Menominee legend about Wisake revenging himself on Buzzard.
*Wi'saka and the Creation of the Earth:
    Potawatomi legend about Wisaka's creation of the world and gifts to the Native people.
*How Wisakatchekwa Got Into Some Trouble:
    Miami legend in which Wisakatchekwa tries to trick two blind men and ends up going for an unconventional ride.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends

Kickapoo Tales:
    Classic collection of Kickapoo Indian legends, including several Wiza'ka'a stories. In Kickapoo with English translation.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Enduring Nations
 Fox legends
 Sac and Fox language
 Wisconsin languages
 Northeast Woodland peoples
 Algonquian languages



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