Published on November 14, 2012 by Casey
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Tribal affiliation: Maliseet, Passamaquoddy, Mi’kmaq
Alternate spellings: Lucifee, Lucivee
Also known as: Wildcat
Type: Villain, lynx
A wildcat spirit of northern Wabanaki folklore, usually portrayed as malevolent and greedy.
Nobody seems to be 100% certain of the origin of this character’s name. It is often said to have a Native American etymology, but as far as we know that is not the case. “Lusifee” has no meaning in the Mi’kmaq or Maliseet-Passamaquoddy languages– indeed, there is not even any “F” sound in those languages. Some Wabanaki people believe this to be the same character as Luks, a malevolent wolverine character of traditional legends, and that the name “Lusifee” is an English or French corruption of that Algonquian name. Other people think the word “Lusifee” may have come from the name Lucifer, and that the character may have been a personification of the devil influenced by European folk stories. The likeliest source of his name is probably the French-Canadian word for “lynx,” “loup-cervier” (pronounced similar to loo-sir-vyay, which could easily be corrupted to loo-sih-fee.) Lynx did not live in large portions of Mi’kmaq and Maliseet territory (in particular, there have never been lynx in Nova Scotia as far as I know,) so it’s quite possible that tribes in those areas could have ended up borrowing stories about this animal from French-speaking voyageurs. It’s also possible that these stories came from Mi’kmaq and Maliseet communities in western New Brunswick or Quebec, where lynx do live, and the storytellers just happened to confuse folklorists by using the French name for the animal instead of a native one.