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Native American Legends: Maneto (Manetoa)
Tribal affiliation: Sauk,
Alternate spellings: Mnedo, Mnito, Mneto, Manetoa, Manetowa, Manet8wa, Kiche Manet8wa, Kichi-Manetowa, Kichimanetowa, Mji-Mnito, Mje-Mneto
Pronunciation: Varies by dialect: usually muh-nay-toh-uh.
Also known as: Great Serpent, Mecikenäpikwa
Type: Lake monster,
Related figures in other tribes: Kinepikwa (Shawnee),
Maneto is an underwater giant serpent,
common to the legends of most Algonquian tribes. The name "Maneto" means both "snake" and "spirit" in the
Central Algonquian tribes, which has led to some confusion of the part of missionaries and anthropologists--
Gichi Manitou, or "Great Spirit," is used
as a name for God in many Algonquian tribes, but missionaries had to give up on a Miami Bible translation
where they had tried to use this term because it sounded too much like the name of a Miami snake monster,
Kichimanetowa! In the Sauk and Fox tribes, "Kehci Manetowa" is understood to refer to God while "Manetowa"
alone refers to a snake. In the Potawatomi tribe, "Gchi-Mnito" is always God, while the giant snake is called
"Mji-Mnito" ("terrible snake.") In Kickapoo, "Kehci Manetoa" can still mean either "Great Spirit" or
"big snake," depending on context.
Maneto the snake monster is a dreadful man-eating creature that lurks in lakes and rivers
and drowns unwary travelers. Manetos have horns and armored scales and are extremely difficult to kill.
The only thing a Maneto fears is thunder, for the
Thunder Beings are their sworn enemies
and have the ability to strike a Maneto dead with thunderbolts.
Encyclopedia article about the Maneto in the folklore of various Native American tribes.
Potawatomi legend about a battle between a thunderbird and a Mnito.
Recommended Books of Related Native American Legends
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Collection of Fox legends and traditional stories, including one about a disastrous Manetowa dream.
Excellent anthology of stories, songs, and oral history from the Algonquian tribes.
Michigan tribes map
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