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Manabozho in the flood.

In Anishinaabe mythology, particularly among the Ojibwa, Nanabozho is a spirit, and figures prominently in their storytelling, including the story of the world's creation. Nanabozho is the Ojibwe trickster figure and culture hero (these two archetypes are often combined into a single figure in First Nations mythologies). He plays a similar role as the Saulteaux Wiisagejaak (Cree Wisakedjak)—eastern James Bay Crees call this figure 'Chikapash', who is said to be a shape shifter. (He can change from various animal forms to various human forms (adult to child) and various mythical animals such as (the great big porcupine, or big skunk.) Chikapash conquered or diminished these mythical animals to smaller size after killing or changing them with his trickery or shape shifting.

The Algonquin had a similar figure called Ganoozhigaabe (Abenaki Gluskabe). He was the son of Wiininwaa ("Nourishment"),[1] a human mother, and E-bangishimog ("In the West"), a spirit father.

Nanabozho most often appears in the shape of a rabbit and is characterized as a trickster. In his rabbit form, he is called Mishaabooz ("Great rabbit" or "Hare") or Chi-waabooz ("Big rabbit"). He was sent to Earth by Gitchi Manitou to teach the Ojibwe. One of his first tasks was to name all the plants and animals. Nanabozho is considered to be the founder of Midewiwin. Like the Egyptian god Thoth, he is thought to be the inventor of fishing and hieroglyphs, and the creator of the earth.

Nanabojo is a trickster hero in Native American legend. The middle brother created the road to the spirit world after he died; the youngest brother was made of stone. Nanabojo killed his two younger brothers because he wanted to travel the earth freely. Ojibway myth has it that Nanabojo saved the forests from Paul Bunyan. They fought for forty days and nights, and Nanabojo killed Bunyan with a Red Lake walleye (blackjack).


Mishaabooz name variations

Like the transcription variations found among "Nanabozho," often Mishaabooz is transcribed into French as Michabous and represented in English as Michabou.


  1. ^ The Anishinaabeg say the mother's name means "nourishment", but Schoolcraft suggests the name is from the Dakota Winona ("first-born daughter").

See also


  • Benton-Banai, Edward. The Mishomis Book: The Voice of the Ojibway. Hayward, WI: Indian Country Communications, 1988.
  • Chamberlain, A. F. "Nanibozhu amongst the Otchipwe, Mississagas, and other Algonkian tribes," Journal of American Folklore 4 (1891): 193-213.
  • Johnston, Basil. Ojibway Heritage. Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1976.
  • Barnouw, Victor. Wisconsin Chippewa Myths and Tales. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1977.

External links

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