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Legendary Native American Figures: Wisakedjak (Wesakechak)

Name: Wisakedjak
Tribal affiliation: Cree, Algonquin, Menominee
Alternate spellings: Wisakejak, Wisakecahk, Wisakechak, Wesakechak, Wesakaychak, Wesakejak, Wisagatcak, Weesageechak, Weesagechak, Wiisaakechaahk, Wiisagejaak, Wissaketchak, Wissakatchakwa, WÓsahkec‚hk, Wisahkecahk, Wisakecahk, Weskechak, Wesakecak, Wesakechak, Wiskejak, Wiskedjak, Wisaketjak, Wisagatcak, Wizakejak, Wisakejak, Wizakeshak, Wissekedjak, Weesakeechuk, Weesageechak, Wesucechak, Wisatkatcak, Whiskey-Jack, Whiskeyjack, Wisahkecahkw, Wee-sa-hay-jac, Wissekedjawk, Wisaketcakw
Pronunciation: Varies by dialect: usually wee-sah-keh-chock or wih-sah-kay-jock
Type: Culture hero, Transformer, trickster
Related figures in other tribes: Wenebojo (Ojibwa), Glooscap (Wabanaki), Nape (Blackfoot)

Wisakedjak is the benevolent culture hero of the Cree tribe (sometimes referred to as a "transformer" by folklorists.) His name is spelled so many different ways partially because Cree was originally an unwritten language (so English speakers just spelled it however it sounded to them at the time), and partially because the Cree language is spoken across a huge geographical range in both Canada and the US, so it has many different dialects. Wisakedjak is a trickster character whose adventures are often humorous. Unlike Plains Indian tricksters, however, Wisakedjak is usually portrayed as a staunch friend of humankind, and never as a dangerous or destructive being.

Details of Wisakedjak's life vary considerably from community to community. In some myths, Wisakedjak was specifically created by the Great Spirit to be a teacher for humankind. In others, he was the divine son of the Earth. And in other legends, he was the son of a Rolling Head monster, who was forced to kill his violent mother to survive. In many traditions Wisakedjak's younger brother was the Wolf, Mahihkan, who was killed by Water Lynxes or Horned Serpents, earning them the bitter enmity of Wisakedjak.

Wisakedjak Stories

*Wiisagejaak:
    Encylopedia articles on the Cree culture hero Wisakedjak.
*Wisakecahk:
    Two legends about the Cree trickster Wesakechak.
*The Beginning of the Cree World: * Wisagatcak and the Flood:
    Myths about Wisakedjak rebuilding the flooded earth.
*Wesukechak and the Weasel:
    Cree legend about a trick Weasel played on Wisakedjak.
*Weesakaychak and the Ducks:
    Cree legends about Wisakedjak playing tricks and being tricked in return.
*Why The Mouse Is So Silky:
    Swampy Cree legend about Wesakechak's reward to a mouse.
*Weesakaychuk and the Ducks * A story of Weesageechak:
    Cree story about Wesakechak tricking some gullible ducks and geese.
*Wesakechak and the Origin of the Moon:
    Legend about how Wesakechak created the sun and moon, illustrated by a Cree artist.

Recommended Books of Wisakedjak Stories

Trickster and the Fainting Birds:
    Excellent retelling of seven Cree and Ojibway "Whiskey Jack" stories.
American Indian Trickster Tales:
    Compilation of more than a hundred Wisakedjak and other trickster stories from many different tribes.
Use discretion sharing these with kids as some of the stories contain adult humor.

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Additional Resources

 I Dream of Yesterday and Tomorrow
 Cree mythology
 Cree language
 Cree words
 Canadian Indian languages
 Eastern Woodland peoples
 Algonquian language family



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