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Abenaki Legends, Myths, and Stories

This is our index of Abenaki mythology and traditional stories that can be read online. We have organized 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, so you may also want to visit our page comparing the stories from the Wabanaki tribes, since the traditional stories of these New England and eastern Canadian tribes are very similar to Abenaki tales.

Enjoy the stories! If you would like to recommend an Abenaki legend for this page, please let us know.

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Important Abenaki Mythological Figures

Click on each character's name for more detailed information about his or her role in Abenaki mythology.

Gluskabe: Gluskabe is the benevolent culture hero of Abenaki mythology, who taught the people the arts of civilization and protected them from danger. Like other Abenaki names, "Gluskabe" has many spelling variants (Glooscap, Kluskap, etc.) The Abenaki pronounciation is glue-skaw-buh. Gluskabe shares some similarities with other Algonquian heroes such as the Anishinabe Nanabosho, Blackfoot Old-Man, and Cree Wisakejak, and many of the same stories are told in different Algonquian tribes with only the identity of the protagonist differing.
Gichi Niwaskw: This means "Great Spirit" in Abenaki, and is the Abenaki name for the Creator (God,) who is sometimes also referred to as Dabaldak. Gichi Niwaskw is a divine spirit who is never personified in Abenaki folklore. Pronounced similar to gih-chee nih-wahsk.
Malsum: This name, which simply means "wolf" in Abenaki, is sometimes said to belong to an evil wolf who is Gluskabe's twin brother. However, some Abenaki elders have been adamant this is not a real Abenaki myth. It may be an Anglo corruption of Great Lakes Algonquian legends instead-- their culture hero does have a twin brother who is a wolf (though he is not evil.) In any case, "Malsum" is pronounced mawl-sum in Abenaki.
Mateguas (Rabbit): In other Abenaki legends, Glooskap's brother is Rabbit, who died and became the ruler of the land of the dead. Like Glooskap, Mateguas is helpful and good, and gives his brother spiritual guidance from beyond the grave. Pronounced mah-tuh-gwoss.
Nokemes Agaskw (Grandmother Woodchuck): Gluskabe's wise old grandmother, who raised him. Pronounced noh-kuh-muss ah-gah-skw.
Medawisla: Loon, Gluskabe's faithful companion, messenger, and tale-bringer. Pronounced muh-dah-wee-lah.
Bootup: Whale, another animal spirit that serves Gluskabe by carrying him across the ocean. Pronounced boo-dup.
First Mother: The first woman, created by Gichi Niwaskw and Gluskabe. Details about her life vary greatly from telling to telling, but the constant is that she ultimately sacrifices herself to bring corn to the people.
Tolba and Moskwas (Turtle and Muskrat): These two animals team up in the Abenaki myth of the creation of the Earth, with Muskrat diving to retrieve mud from beneath the water and Turtle volunteering to carry the new land on his back. Their names are pronounced tawl-buh and mos-kwuss.
Azeban: Raccoon, a light-hearted Abenaki trickster figure. Pronounced ah-zuh-bahn.
Miko: Squirrel, an Abenaki troublemaker character. Pronounced mee-ko.
Ojihozo (or Odzihozo): A mythological being, sometimes known as the Transformer, who created himself from nothing and formed Lake Champlain and its surrounding landscape. His name literally means "he makes himself from something unknown or unspecified" and is pronounced ood-zee-hoh-zoh.
Giwakwa (male) or Giwakweskwa (female): Evil man-eating ice giants of Abenaki Indian legends, similar to the Windigo of the Anishinabe and Cree tribes. Pronounced gee-wock-wah or gee-wock-ways-kwah.
Badogiak: The Thunderers, a group of seven supernatural warrior brothers who cause thunder and lightning. Pronounced puh-dawn-gee-uck.
Bemola (also spelled Pamola, Pomola, etc.) A snow bird spirit that lived on Mt Katahdin and made cold weather. Pronounced buh-moh-lah.
Wuchowsen: Another mountain bird spirit of Abenaki Indian myths, whose wings make the wind. Pronounced wuh-dzo-sen.
Pukwudgies (Bokwjimen): Little people of Abenaki mythology, resembling dwarves or fairies. They are generally benevolent forest spirits but can be dangerous if they are disrespected. Pronounced book-wuh-dzee-mun in Abenaki, usually Anglicized to puck-wudd-jee.
Manôgemasak: Another race of legendary little people, manogemasak are river-elves who are usually good-natured but may sometimes capsize canoes, tear fishing nets, or cause other mischief. Pronounced mah-nawn-guh-mah-sock.
Gici Awas: A huge, monstrous creature resembling an enormous stiff-legged bear with an oversized head. Some folklorists believe Abenaki legends about this creature may have been inspired by mammoth fossils. Its name means "great beast" and is pronounced gih-chee ah-wahss.
Mskagwdemos (Swamp Woman): A female ghost that lives in the swamps and makes mournful cries. Anyone who tries to follow the sound of her crying is lost in the swamp. Pronounced muh-skog-day-moose.
Ghost-Witch: A malevolent undead monster created by the death of an evil sorcerer, which returns to life by night to kill and devour humans.
Tatoskok (also known as Gitaskog, Msaskog, or Pitaskog): An underwater horned serpent said to lurk in lakes and eat humans. All of its names are variants on the meaning "great serpent" or "big serpent." Pronounced tah-toh-skog or gee-tah-skog.

Abenaki Legends

Gluskabe * Gluskab * Gluskabe:
    Introductions to the Abenaki demigod Gluskabe.
*Abenaki Creation Story * Gluskonba Makes the People * Kloskurbeh and the Abanaki:
    Abenaki myths about the creation of the world.
*Odzihozo the Great Transformer * Odzihozo and Klosgab:
    Abenaki myths about Ojihozo, the Man Who Made Himself From Nothing.
The Strange Origin of Corn:
    Legend of how corn came to the Abenakis.
Gluskabe Changes Maple Syrup:
    Abenaki legends about the origin of maple syrup.
Gluscabi and the Wind Eagle:
    Gluskabe decides to stop the wind from blowing, and learns a lesson about the world.
How Glooscap Found The Summer:
    The origin of the seasons.
*Azban the Raccoon:
    Azban loses a shouting match with a waterfall.
*The Story of the Drum:
    Abenaki legend about the origin of the drum.
*Gluskonba and the Four Wishes:
    Gluskabe grants wishes to four Abenaki men, but not all their wishes turn out as they imagined.
*Gluskonba and the Snow-Bird:
    A Gluskabe legend told in Abenaki with English translation.
*Kuloscap and the Ghost:
    A short story about Gluskabe losing his pipe to a ghost child.
*How Gluskabe Stole Tobacco:
    Grasshopper tries to keep the gift of tobacco for himself, but is outwitted by Gluskabe.
*Gluskabe and Dzeedzeez:
    Gluskabe finally meets his match in this humorous Abenaki folktale. ("Dzeedzeez" just means "baby" in Abnaki-Penobscot.)
    Abenaki legend about the origins of "Indian summer," the brief recurrence of summer-like weather before the snows fall.
*An Abenaki Witch Story:
    Abenaki story about a man murdered by a ghost witch.
*Cannibal Giants of the Snowy Northern Forest:
    Article about the Giwakwa and other ice monsters of the northern Algonquian tribes.
*Of Glooskap's Birth:
    Leland's Nordic embellishments to the Gluskabe cycle.

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Recommended Books on Abenaki Mythology
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Seven Eyes, Seven Legs: Supernatural Stories of the Abenaki:
    Excellent book of myths and folktales told and illustrated by an Abenaki artist.
Dawn Land:
    An interesting graphic novel based on Abenaki creation myths, by a Native author.
The Faithful Hunter * The Wind Eagle * Giants of the Dawnland:
    Three good collections of Wabanaki folklore.
Abenaki Indian Legends, Grammar and Place Names:
    Traditional Abenaki stories in the original language, with English translations and notes.
Raccoon's Last Race * Gluskabe and the Four Wishes * Turtle's Race With Beaver:
    Children's picture books of Abenaki legends, by Native storyteller Joseph Bruchac.
Gluskabe Stories:
    Audio tape of Abenaki legends brought to life by Bruchac.

Additional Resources

 Abenaki traditional religion
 Abenaki legendary beings
 Books of Native American legends
 Native American religions
 Abenaki Indians
 Indian tribes of Vermont
 Woodland Indian tribes
 Algonquian Indians
 Native American Indian nations

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