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Native American Legends: Apci'lnic

Name: Apci'lnic
Tribal affiliation: Innu, Cree, Ojibwa, Ottawa
Alternate spellings: Apiscinis, Apisciyenis, Apische'nes, Apichcinini'nss, Apcinic, Apci'ni'c, Apciiniic, Apci'nic, Apcinis, Apcilniic, Apci'lniic, Apci'lnis, Apci'lnic, Apisiiyiis, Apisi'iiyuw, Pish-see-neesh. The Algonquian plural forms of their name are Apa'iinsag/Apisciyinisak/Apiscinisak/Apischiiyinisak and Apishi'lnuts/Apishi'ilnuts.
Pronunciation: Differs greatly depending on language and dialect. Apci'lnic is pronounced up-shee-luh-neesh in Montagnais Innu.
Also known as: Apa'iins
Type: Native American little people, nature spirits
Related figures in other tribes: Paisa (Miami), Pukwudgie (Wampanoag), Mikumwess (Micmac)

Apci'lnic are magical little people of the wilderness in Innu and other Northern Algonquian folklore, similar to European gnomes or fairies. They are said to be about two feet tall, and their names literally mean "little ones" or "little people." In the Innu tribe, Apci'lnic are described as powerful sorcerers who can turn invisible. Although they are not generally hostile to humans, they are capricious nature spirits who can wreak havoc if they are treated disrespectfully. If they are in a good mood, they may return lost items, help people who have become lost in the bush, or bring warnings to medicine people. If they are in a bad mood, they may steal things, commit acts of sabotage, or even kidnap children.

In Anishinabe and Cree, the name "Apa'iins" is sometimes used to refer the Apisiiyiis, other times to the water sprites also known as Mannegishi or Memegwesi, and other times to tiny, insect-like fairies also known as Wiings. These confusions arise because names such as Apa'iins literally mean simply "small people," a description that can sensibly be applied to several different types of mythological beings. In fact, some of these names are also used to refer to an ordinary person of small size. "Pa'is" is a common man's nickname in Potawatomi, similar to "Shorty."

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Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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The Deetkatoo:
    Traditional tales about little people from 14 different Native American tribes.
Wolverine Creates The World:
    Collection of Innu legends and folktales from Labrador, including some about apcinic.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Rich anthology of Native stories, songs, and oral history from the Ojibwe, Cree, and other Algonquian tribes.
The Mishomis Book: Voice of the Ojibway:
    Excellent book by a Native author exploring Ojibway legends and traditions.

Additional Resources

 Innu stories
 Anishinaabe mythology
 Ojibway language
 Cree tribe
 Canadian First Nations
 Eastern Woodland languages
 Algonquian languages

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