Published on November 17, 2012 by Casey
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Tribal affiliation: Mi’kmaq, Maliseet, Passamaquoddy
Alternate spellings: Muin, Mooin, Mouin, Moo’in, Mooween
Also known as: Muwinskw, Mooinskw, Muin’skw, Muin’iskw, Mooin-askw (female)
Muwin the bear is one of the major characters of Wabanaki folklore. In comparison with other animal spirits, Muwin is portrayed as a strong, honorable figure with impressive magical powers, but often somewhat gullible and slow-witted, so that he frequently serves as the “straight man,” victim, or butt of the joke for weaker but cleverer tricksters like Rabbit, Wolverine, or Raccoon. In other stories, Muwin fares better than these animals due to his superior moral qualities.
Some Wabanaki stories feature Muwinskw, Mrs. Bear (sometimes translated as Bear Woman.) She has much the same characteristics as Muwin (particularly gullibility and good moral character), but also the fierce maternal instinct that real mother bears in the wild are known for. In Wabanaki tales, lost or abandoned children are frequently adopted by Muwinskw.