Published on November 18, 2012 by Casey
Name: First Mother
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Tribal affiliation: Penobscot, Abenaki
Also known as: Corn Mother, Corn Woman
Type: Goddess, corn, first people
Related figures in other tribes: Mondamin (Anishinabe), Selu (Cherokee)
First Mother or Corn Mother is the first woman in the Abenaki and Penobscot creation story. The details of her life vary greatly from telling to telling– in different communities she is said to have been created by the Great Spirit, the culture hero Glooscap, or both, or simply sprung to life spontaneously from the morning dew. In some stories she and her husband (sometimes identified as First Father or First Penobscot, other times simply as Corn Mother’s husband) were created at the same time, while in other stories, he had already been created to help Glooscap and First Mother joined him later. After giving birth to the Wabanaki nation, First Mother then sacrifices her life to feed them, turning her body into the first garden.