Published on July 13, 2013 by Casey
Glooscap (also spelled Gluskabe, Glooskap, Gluskabi, Kluscap, Kloskomba, or Gluskab) is a mythical culture hero, and “transformer” of the Wabanaki peoples.
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He was an important figure for the Abenaki in the United States and Atlantic Canada, as well as the Passamaquoddy and the Mi’kmaq (Micmac) tribes, all part of the Wabanaki Confederacy. He is represented as the creator in the Penobscot Native Nation’s Creation Myth, as transcribed by Joseph Nicola in The Red Man.
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] from only speech.”
Legends of 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.