Native American Little People: Pukwudgie

Published on November 11, 2012 by Casey

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Native American Little People: Pukwudgie

Name: Pukwudgie

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Tribal affiliation: Ojibwe, Algonquin, Abenaki, Wampanoag, Mohican

Alternate spellings: Bagwajiwinini, Bagwajinini, Pukwudjininee, Puckwijinee, Puk-Wudjie, Pukwujininee, Bokwjimen, Bogwejimen, Bgwajinini, Pok-wejee-men, Pok-wegee-men, Puckwudgie, Pukwudgee, Pagwadjinini, Pagwadjiniń, Bagudzinini, Pukwatcininins, Puk-wud-gie, Puck wudj ininees, Pakwatcininins, Paweesuk, Paueeseegug, Paueehnsuk, Pikwatci’ni, Pukwadjiineesuk, Pakwatcininins, Bgoji-nini, Bagudjzinishinabe. The plural form of their name in the Algonquian languages is Bogwejimenak, Bagwajininiwok, Bgwajininwag, Pagwajininiwag, Bagwajininiwag, Pukwadjiineesuk, Pugwudgininiwug, Bgoji-nin-wag, Bgoji-ninwag, etc.

Pronunciation: bug-wuh-jih-wih-nih-nee, bug-wuh-jih-nih-nee, or boog-wuh-jee-mun, depending on the tribe

Also known as: Apa’iins, Pai’iins, Pa’iins, or Pahiins all of which literally mean “Little Ones” or “Little People” in Anishinabe languages.

Type: Little people, antagonists (in Wampanoag lore)

Related figures in other tribes: Mikumwess (Micmac), Paissa (Miami)

Pukwudgies are magical little people of the forest in Algonquian folklore, similar to European gnomes or fairies. Pukwudgie stories are told throughout the northeastern United States, southeastern Canada, and the Great Lakes region. However, their nature varies in the folklore of different tribes. In the Ojibwe and other Great Lakes tribes, the pukwudgie (or bagwajinini) is considered a mischievous but basically good-natured creature who plays tricks on people but is not dangerous. In the Abenaki and other northeast Algonquian tribes, a pukwudgie (or bokwjimen) can be dangerous, but only to people who treat him with disrespect. In the Wampanoag and other tribes of southern New England, pukwudgies are capricious and dangerous creatures who may play harmless tricks or even help a human neighbor, but are just as likely to steal children or commit deadly acts of sabotage. According to some Wampanoag stories, pukwudgies were enemies of the culture hero Maushop and were even responsible for his death (or the deaths of his sons.)

Pukwudgies are usually described as being knee-high or even smaller. Their name literally means ‘person of the wilderness’ and they are usually considered to be spirits of the forest. In some traditions, they have a sweet smell and are associated with flowers. Pukwudgies have magical powers which vary from tribe to tribe but may include the ability to turn invisible, confuse people or make them forget things, shapeshift into cougars or other dangerous animals, or bring harm to people by staring at them.

Source: native-languages Unabridged
Based on the collective work of, © 2015 Native American Encyclopedia.
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