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Native American Legends: Gitchi Manitou

Name: Gitchi Manitou
Tribal affiliation: Ojibwe, Algonquin, Ottawa, Potawatomi, Menominee, Kickapoo, Sauk-Fox, Mohican, Mohegan, Shawnee, Cree
Alternate spellings: Gichi Manidoo, Gchi Mnidoo, Kichi Manido, Gitche Manitou, Gitchi Manitou, Gitchi Manidou, Gitchee Manitou, Gitchee Manito, Kichi-Manidò, Kitchi Manitoo, Kitchi-Manitou, Kitche Manitou, Kicci Manito, Gzhemnido, Kchi Mnido, Gitche Man'ito, Gitsche Manitou, Gichi Manito, Gche-Mnedo, Gitchie Manitou, Kitchie Manitou, Gizhemanidoo, Kitchi Manido, Kchemnito, Kitshi Manito, Kigi Manito, Kchemnito, Kshe Mnito, Kitshi Manito, Gitchie Manitoo, Kitche Manido, Kihci Manito, Kigi Manitu, Chi-Mnidoo, Gche-Mnedo, Mese Manido, Me'se Manedo, Mesi Manito, Kesae Manetow, Keche Manitow, Kishä' Ma'nido, Kisi Manitou, Kehcimaneto, Kechimaneto, Kehci Manito, Kechi Muneto, Gichi Manitoa, Gechee Maneto, Kechi Manetowa, Kechi Manito, Ketchimanetowa, Kiche Manetoa, Kichi Maneto, Kechee Manitowa, Kichi Manetowa, Kiche Manit8a, Kechee Manetowa, Mishe Moneto, Mishemoneto, Mise Manito, Msawe Maneto, Konchi Manto, Gunche Mundo, Konkchi Manito, Waunthut Mennitoow, Wauntht Mennitow, Waun-theet Mon-nit-toow, Kisemanito, Kihcimanito, Kise Manito, Kici Manito, Kichi Manitou, Getci Mu'nito, Gisha Manitou, Tchi Manito, Monteo
Pronunciation: Varies by tribe. The Ojibwe pronunciation is gih-chee muh-nih-doo.
Also known as: Great Spirit, Sky Chief, Master of Life
Type: Creator god
Related figures in other tribes: Gichi Niwaskw (Abenaki), Kishelemukonk (Lenape), Gisoolg (Mi'kmaq)

Gitchi Manitou is the great creator god of the Anishinaabe and many neighboring Algonquian tribes. The name literally means Great Spirit, a common phrase used to address God in many Native American cultures.

As in other Algonquian tribes, the Great Spirit is abstract, benevolent, does not directly interact with humans, and is rarely if ever personified in Anishinabe myths-- originally, Gitchi Manitou did not even have a gender (although with the introduction of English and its gender-specific pronouns, Gitchi Manitou began to be referred to as "he.") It is Gitchi Manitou who created the world, though some details of making the world as we know it today were delegated to the culture hero Nanabozho. "Gitchi Manitou" (or one of its many variant spellings) was used as a translation for "God" in early translations of the Bible into Ojibway, and today many Ojibway people consider Gitchi Manitou and the Christian God to be one and the same.

Gitchi Manitou Stories

*Father of Indian Corn * Mon-Daw-Min * Great Spirit and the Corn:
    Ojibwe legends about Gitchie Manitou sending corn to the people.
*Gizhemanidoo and the Creation:
    The Ottawa Indian creation story.
*The Origin of Tobacco:
    Potawatomi story about Kitche Manitou teaching an elder the secrets of tobacco.
*Grandmother's Creation Story:
    Cree legend about the Creator Kisemanito making the first animals and the first people.
    Oral history from a Cree elder illustrating traditional beliefs about the Creator, Kitchi Manitou.

Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Nanabosho Dances:
    A nice retelling of a Chippewa Indian legend about Gitchi Manitou teaching Nanabosho respect for all things.
Ojibway Tales:
    A good collection of traditional Ojibway folktales.
Ojibway Ceremonies:
    A good book on Ojibway spirituality and ritual life by an Ojibway author.
Algonquian Spirit:
    Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Ojibwe and other Algonquian tribes.

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Additional Resources

 Ojibway mythology
 Ojibwe tribe
 Menominee tribe
 Minnesota language
 Northeast Indian tribes
 Algic-speaking peoples

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