MYTHICAL CHARACTERS OF THE WABANAKI
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Glooscap

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A large statue of Glooscap stands besidebeside the town hall of Parrsboro, Nova Scotia


Glooscap (also spelled Gluskabe,Glooskap, Gluskabi, Kluscap, Kloskomba, or Gluskab) is a mythical culture hero, and "transformer" of the Wabanaki peoples. He is represented as the creator in the Penobscot Indian Nation's Creation Myth, as transcribed by Joseph Nicola in The Red Man.

He was an important figure for the Abenaki in the United States and Atlantic Canada, including the Passamaquoddy and the Mi'kmaq (Micmac) tribes, both part of the Wabanaki Confederacy.

Glooscap is portrayed in a creator role similar to that of the Ojibwa Nanabozho and the Cree Wisakedjak. His name, Kloskabe, means "Man that came from nothing" or literally, "Man [created] only from speech."


Legends:

Abenaki

The Abenaki people believe that after Tabaldak created humans, the dust from his body created Glooscap and his twin brother, Malsumis. He gave Glooscap the power to create a good world. Malsumis, on the other hand, is the opposite, and seeks evil to this day.

Glooscap learned that hunters who kill too much would destroy the ecosystem and the good world he had sought to create. Frightened at this possibility, Glooscap sought Grandmother Woodchuck (Agaskw) and asked her for advice. She plucked all the hairs out of her belly (hence the lack of hair on a woodchuck's belly) and wove them into a magical bag. Glooscap put all the game animals into the bag. He then bragged to Grandmother Woodchuck that the humans would never need to hunt again. Grandmother Woodchuck scolded him and told him that they would die without the animals. She said that they needed to hunt in order to remain strong. Glooscap then let the animals go.

Later, Glooscap decided to capture the great bird that Tabaldak had placed on a mountain peak, where it generated bad weather in the flapping of its wings. Glooscap caught the eagle and bound its wings and the winds ceased. Soon, the air was so hot and heavy that Glooscap could not breathe, so he loosened the bird's wings, just enough to generate enough weather so that humanity could live.

Modern Abenaki believe that Glooscap is very angry at the white people for not obeying the rules he set down.


Mi'kmaq

In one version of the Mi'kmaq creation myth, Glooskap lay on his back, with arms outstretched and his head toward the rising sun, for 490 days and nights, then Nogami, the grandmother, was born as an old woman from the dew of the rock. The next day, Nataoa-nsen, Nephew, was born from the foam of the sea. On the next day was born the Mother of all the Mi'kmaq, from the plants of the Earth.

Glooscap was said by the Mi'kmaq to be great in size and in powers, and to have created natural features such as the Annapolis Valley. In carrying out his feats, he often had to overcome his evil twin brother who wanted rivers to be crooked and mountain ranges to be impassable; in one legend, he turns the evil twin into stone. Another common story is how he turned himself into a giant beaver and created five islands in the Bay of Fundy, Nova Scotia by slapping his huge tail in the water with enough force to stir up the earth.

Yet another legend says that when Glooscap finished painting the splendor of the world, he dipped his brush into a blend of all the colours and created Abegweit, meaning "Cradled on the Waves" ? his favorite island (Prince Edward Island).

When Glooscap slept, Nova Scotia was his bed, and Prince Edward Island his pillow.

Glooscap is remembered for having saved the world from an evil frog-monster, who had swallowed all the Earth's water. Glooscap killed the monster and the water was released. Some animals, relieved at the resurgence of water, jumped in, becoming fish and other aquatic animals. Of course,this legend,like many others did have some basis in fact. A massive earthquake converted a mountain on the east side of the Penobscot river into a new channel through a split in that mountain. The eastern side of this mountain became Verona island, and the new river channel passed in-between. Later, when explorers asked where the stone fort Norumbega was, they were told that it lay on the eastern side of the river (which it did prior to the earthquake), and so could never find the new location. It is presently located in the north-west corner of the Sandy Point Animal Enhancement Area in Sandy Point, Maine.

Glooscap is also believed to have brought the Mi'kmaq stoneware, knowledge of good and evil, fire, tobacco, fishing nets, and canoes, making him a cultural hero.


Penobscot (Panawapskewi)

Gluskabe created the first humans from the mud of the banks of the biggest, longest river in the area, the Penobscot River. There are many stories that relate to how different animals were created and how they attained their physical characteristics. Gluskabe also had run-in with a trickster spirit, Pomola, until Gluscabe tired of his antics and banished Pomola to the western valley of Mount Katahdin, a holy place. Gluscabe is thought to currently reside in this mountain, protector of the people of this land.


Cultural Influence

In addition to being a spiritual figure, Glooscap also became a major figure of regional identity for the Bay of Fundy region with everything from steam locomotives, the ship Glooscap, schools, businesses and the Glooscap Trail tourism region named after the heroic figure.

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Abenaki Mythology

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The Abenaki is a Native American Nation located in the northeastern United States and Eastern Canada. Religious ceremonies are led by medicine keepers, called Medeoulin (Mdawinno).

The history of the Abenaki people is divided into three time periods. In the first, the Ancient Age, humanity and animal-life are undifferentiated. In the second, the Golden Age, humans are still animals, but quantitatively different. In the third, the Present Age, animals and humanity are totally differentiated.

Wabanaki means - roughly - "People of the Dawn Land", and often pertains to the Indigenous peoples of the Eastern coast of "North America".


Beings of the Ancient Age

  • Atosis (also as Ato-sees) - a Medeoulin who is both snake and human, forces people to find a stick so that he can cook them with it, was blinded by Moosbas
  • Asban (also Azeban, lit. "raccoon") - raccoon (or wolverine) trickster spirit
  • Kee-wakw - a gigantic, forest-dwelling cannibal
  • Kisosen (also as Kee-zos-en, lit. "sun-bringer") - the solar deity, an eagle whose wings opened to create the day, and closed to cause the night-time
  • Kita-skog (lit. "Big Snake") (also Pita-skog, lit. "Grand Snake") - a snake-spirit who fights the Pa-don-gi-ak
  • Kchi-awasos (lit. "Big Bear") - the bowl stars of the Big Dipper are the Great Bear, who is chased every night by three hunters; he is killed every fall and his blood drips to earth turning the leaves brown while the constellation turns upside down; it is righted, and he is reborn, every spring
  • Mateguas (also as Mat-gwas) - a rabbit spirit, first (one of magic) the rabbit, the very first Medeoulin (shaman), legendary founder of the Meda Society of Magic
  • Metee-kolen-ol - a race of evil wizards with hearts of ice
  • Nanom-keea-po-da - subterranean spirit who causes earthquakes
  • Niben (also as Nee-ben, lit. "summer") - a woman whose stunning beauty forces Pe-ben to retreat to the north; she represents summer
  • P-mol-a - (also Pamola, Bmola, Pomola) - a bird and night spirit who takes prisoners to Alomkik, near Mt. Katahdin and causes cold weather
  • Psônen (lit. "snow-bringer") - an eagle-spirit that makes snow by opening his wings
  • Padôgiyik (also as Pa-don-gi-ak, lit. "thunders") - seven white-skinned, golden-haired brothers, half-human and half-bird, former inhabitants of Lake Champlain, war-like (battles Kita-skog), thunder and lightning spirits.
  • Pebon (lit. "winter") - a powerful sorcerer who puts his audience to sleep when he tells stories, spirit of winter
  • Siguan (also as See-gwen, lit. "spring") - a young male who loved the season of summer, and brought her to the north every spring
  • Tabal-dak (also Tabaldak) - the androgynous creator of existence
  • Wa-won-dee-a-megw - a snail spirit that can live in trees, on land or in the water, as well as change size and appearance to look like a huge snake, alligator or scaly man; has horns which can be ground into a magical powder
  • Wad-zoo-sen - the eagle that flaps his wings to create wind
  • Wassan-mon-ganeehla-ak - a race of people who play games with a ball of light, causing the Aurora Borealis

Beings of the Golden Age

  • Oodzee-hozo (Odzihózo) also known as Gluskab/Gluskabe (Gloos Ka Be)[1] - ("the man who created himself") a man who lived before the invention of legs. He dragged his body around, creating mountains, valleys and rivers (in this early form, he is referred to as Bemee-geedzin-pobi-zeed), as well as Lake Champlain, which is holy to the Abenaki. Odzihozo turned himself into a stone in the middle of the lake and is said to inhabit Rock Dunder (west of Burlington, Vermont).
  • Tool-ba - foolish turtle spirit, uncle of Gluskab
  • Pla-ween-noo - turtle spirit, mother of Gluskab, patron spirit of the Sokwakis
  • Agaskw (also Nokemis) - ("woodchuck", also known as Nokemis, "my grandmother") is a very wise woodchuck-spirit of the Abenaki. She is the grandmother of Gluskab.
  • Moos-bas - mink spirit, adopted son on Gluskab, powerful fletcher, sometimes fulfills wishes
  • Mool-sem - one of Gluskab's dogs, the white one, could shrink or enlarge himself
  • M-da-weelh-ak - a loon spirit in the form of a dog, Gluskab's messenger, one of his dogs, the black one, could shrink or enlarge himself
  • A-senee-ki-wakw - a race of stone giants, the first people Gluskab created but then destroyed because they crushed other animals and injured the earth with their great size

Gluskab and Malsumis

Tabaldak, the creator god, made humans and then Gluskab (several variants of whom were associated with different branches of the Abenaki, including Glooscap, Glooskap, Gluskabe Klooskomba) and Malsumis sprang from the dust on his hand. Gluskab and Malsumis both had the power to create a good world, but only Gluskab did so. Malsumis still seeks evil to this day.

Gluskab founded the Golden Age of the Earth by rendering the evil spirits of the Ancient Age smaller and safer, as well as teaching humanity how to hunt and fish, build shelter and all of the Abenaki's knowledge of art, invention and science. Gluskab's departure ended the Golden Age, though he is prophesied to return and renew it again.

Me-koom-wee-soo was Gluskab's assistant and wields an ivory bow. He has a fierce temper and gains weight as he gets more angry; eventually, it is said, he sinks into stone. Gluskab and Me-koom-wee-soo had an archery contest once; Me-koom-wee-soo fired an arrow into the top of Mt. Washington, creating a pond, while Gluskab's arrow created a hole in the sky that was then called msatawa (the Evening Star).

Gluskab realized the strain hunters can cause on an ecosystem. He asked a woodchuck spirit for help, and she gave him all the hairs off her belly, woven into a magical sac; which is why woodchucks have bald bellies. Gluskab then went to a mountain, where Tabaldak had placed a huge eagle (P-mol-a) that made bad weather by flapping its wings. After binding it, Gluskab realized some wind was necessary and loosened them slightly. Gluskab saved the world from a frog monster that swallowed all the planet's water. When Gluskab cut open the monster's belly, some animals jumped into the water and became fish. Some modern Wabanaki believe that Gluskab is angry at white people for not obeying his rules.


Beings of the Present Age

  • Alom-bag-winno-sis or Alom-begwi-no-sis - a mischievous, dwarfish race of men upsets canoes, that can increase or decrease body size at will; they also own a pot which can transform a few kernels of maize into a huge quantity; seeing one supposedly foretells a death by drowning
  • Ask-wee-da-eed - a fire-elemental, identified as a will o' the wisp, that brings bad luck and death, also connected with comets and meteors
  • Atsolowas - a trickster.
  • Awa-hon-do z- insect spirits that bite humans
  • Awes-kon-wa - a small, flying sprite, associated with the Mohawk tribe
  • Batsolowanagwes - a benign trickster
  • Bedig-wajo (western Abenaki) or Ktaden (eastern Abenaki) - a culture hero
  • Chibaiskweda - marsh gas, supposedly caused by the ghost of an improperly buried corpse
  • Do-gakw-ho-wad - small men who prop the jaws of animals open with sticks in order to avoid being eaten
  • Dzee-dzee-bon-da - a monster, so ugly that even he is terrified of his own appearance
  • Ko-gok - another monster
  • Lo-lol - a frightening monster
  • M-ska-gwe-demoos - a swamp-dwelling woman, dressed in moss with moss for hair; she cries alone in the forest and is potentially dangerous
  • Maski-mon-gwe-zo-os - a toad creature, seduces men and children and kills them, appears either as a partridge or a woman dressed in moss, with a belt made of arborvitae bark
  • Meek-moos-ak - a pair of short twins who seduce women, who are then cursed to never desire marriage, kills hunters during the winter, possibly a personification of the Mi'kmaq tribe
  • N-dam-keno-wet - a half-fish, half-human creature with a small face and long hair, molests bathing women
  • P-skig-demo-os - a female creature, P-skig-demo-os slays men and children
  • Pak-zin-skwa - an ugly, old woman
  • Pim-skwa-wagen-owad - small, aquatic, pinching creatures
  • Pok-wejee-men - small creatures, created from the bark of the ash tree
  • Tsa-tsamolee-as - the noisy, clownish fool
  • Tsi-noo - a person whose heart is made of ice and has no soul; he eats the souls of others for sustenance and strength
  • Wana-games-ak - river-dwelling creatures with faces so narrow, they are essentially two-dimensional, friendly creatures that warned the Abenaki of coming attacks

References

  1. ^ Afable, Patricia O. and Madison S. Beekes (1996). "Place Names" in Handbook of North American Indians, vol. 17 (Ives Goddard, ed.). Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, p. 193