The Algonquian Pukwudgie
There is a wide variety of cryptids existing in the United States. Mermaids, BigFoot, Melon Heads, and even cat-like creatures. I came across the legend of Delaware’s Pukwudgie, except it isn’t just in Delaware. This myth is all across the Eastern United States and Canada. It is also too good of a story to pass up, so now in the Eastern United States and Canada, we have Pukwudgie.
The Pukwudgie is a long-time myth of the Algonquian tribes in the Eastern United States and Canada. Sightings range from Delaware to Massachusetts and include Texas to Indiana. They are magical people that live in the dense forests. These troll-like creatures grow no bigger than your knees. The description of these diminutive creatures is like that of a house-troll. Do you remember the house-troll character from the Harry Potter movies? That is how the small creature looks.
When you think of trolls, you think of medieval England or Germany. Tales of trolls abound in Europe, but Pukwudgies are ancient Native American legends. Popular stories were told by the Ojibwe, Algonquin, Abenaki, Wampanoag, and Mohican tribes. The information about Pukwudgie’s behavior varies depending on the tribe’s folklore.
The Pukwudgie is a wide-spread legend traveling with the nomad Algonquin tribes across the United States. It’s personality differing depending on the tribe. It is known as bagwajinini, in Ojibwe and other Great Lakes tribes folklore, and is a good-natured creature. They are mischievous and like to play pranks and tricks on people, but not dangerous.
Pukwudgies in the Wampanoag and other tribes of southern New England, act differently. One never knew which side of their personality they would see. They could help a neighbor turn around and steal their children or play harmless tricks before committing acts of crime. The Wampanoag nation has reasons for their nasty Pukwudgie, as you will see further in this story.
Pukwudgies (Bokwjimen), of the Abenaki and other northeast Algonquian tribes, are not dangerous. Well, except for the people that mistreated them or didn’t respect them. Some tribal stories state the Pukwudgie are enemies of a tribal cultural hero, and I will give you a hint. It is a Wampanoag cultural hero that angered the little people.
The Pukwudgie name is equivalent to “wilderness people” and are forest spirits. Myths tell of smelling flowers before a Pukwudgie appeared. They are also known to have magical powers. Those powers depend on the tribe retelling the story. Their abilities include turning invisible, animal shapeshifting, and making people forget things.
What is interesting is that paranormal energy attracts Pukwudgie’s, including sites surrounding locations charged with power. The Mounds State Park in Indiana is one of those hotspots. The park officials even host Pukwudgie hunts, but no Pukwudgie was found or hurt. It would have been interesting if one had been discovered or seen on the search. The police, with tongue-in-cheek humor, even put up a Pukwudgie crossing sign.
Fall River, Massachusetts, reports seeing Pukwudgies close to Lizzie Borden’s house. The infamous location of the ax murders of her parents. Borden, acquitted of the murders, still haunts her home. The Moundsville state penitentiary in West Virginia is known as one of the state’s most haunted locations. There have been reported sightings of them there and at Round Rock, Texas. If you don’t recognize the name, that’s alright. You wouldn’t unless you are a Bigfoot fan. Round Rock is allegedly Bigfoot’s home.
Pukwudgies got around and not always in tribal myths and stories.
Legend has it that the Pukwudgie used to get along with humans. That it is the Wampanoag tribe’s fault that the forest people hate humans. The Wampanoags loved a local hero named Maushop, the giant. To them, the Pukwudgie’s were nuisances, even though the little people were only trying to help.
The tribe asked Maushop to get rid of the Pukwudgie. He did too, slaughtering quite a few of them in the process. Needless to say, the wilderness people had a problem with that. They declared war on the human race. Well, they declared war on the Wampanoag anyways. The Wampanoag still feel the same way about them, based on their stories about Pukwudgies. In Wampanoag stories, they tell their people to avoid them altogether.
That is the one thing all the tribes have in common. All the stories agree that you should never anger a Pukwudgie. They might be little, but they can be dangerous if provoked. You didn’t want to have one on your wrong side. Their personality is like the Leprechaun’s in that they can be cranky. Unlike the Leprechaun, Pukwudgies don’t lead you to a pot of gold. If one annoys the small creatures, they exact revenge. Pukwudgies have kidnapped people and push them off cliffs. They use knives and spears to attack their enemies. Sometimes even using sound to blind their victims.
The description of a Pukwudgie matches the definition of the European troll. Short, stout humanoid creatures with big ears, nose, and fingers. Grayish colored skin that glows sometimes. Is there a connection between the European troll and Algonquin Pukwudgies? Even their personalities are very similar.
This elusive creature is so prevalent in Algonquin myths and legends that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow mentions the Pukwudgie in his Song of Hiawatha published in 1855. That was over one-hundred-seventy-years ago, and still today, there have been sightings. While walking her dog in the woods, a woman claims she saw one. She didn’t bother the elusive creature and didn’t antagonize it either. Yet, it showed up to her window every morning to wake her up. The poor woman finally had to move away to get creepy visits to stop.
One night a man ran into a Pukwudgie with fur and red glowing eyes. A nose shaped like a wolf, and when the creature ran away from the man, it released a disturbing moan. His description doesn’t fit earlier sightings of the Pukwudgie by other witnesses. It makes you wonder if the man saw a Pukwudgie or he saw something else. There are other cryptids on the loose in America. Too many with similar physical descriptions and red glowing eyes.
The stories and legends about the Pukwudgie are fascinating. Whatever you think about the tales, they are interesting to read. If you are ever on the East Coast and meet a Pukwudgie, be sure not to annoy it.